Jamie Rhodes-US PRESSWIRE
Pitt has its stiffest Big East test of the year so far when they travel to face Louisville tonight. Marquette and/or Cincinnati may turn out to be better teams, but at least Pitt had those games at home. Playing the Cardinals on the road will be no easy game.
Compounding the fact is that Louisville's mired in a bit of a slump. They've lost their last three games and will be looking to get back on track. Head coach Rick Pitino has already called this game a must win for his squad and while I'm not sure that's the case, I see his point for declaring that publicly.
To be honest, I'm not feeling all that optimistic about this game. If there's one thing Pitt did poorly in their blowout win over DePaul, it was successfully beating the trap. Louisville's made a living off of that and it could be the difference in the game.
The encouraging thing for Pitt fans? The team is playing better with each passing game. Beating up on DePaul and Providence was one thing, but the Panthers have also defeated a decent UConn team at home and a surging Villanova one on the road over their four-game win streak. You can even go back six games when you factor in the blowout win over Georgetown and the narrow overtime loss to Marquette, who's looking like one of the best teams in the conference.
Better yet is more guys are getting involved. Trey Zeigler is looking like he could be a starter for a lot of teams and Durand Johnson's started to emerge a bit. When Pitt is running on all cylinders, they're difficult to beat.
Still, though, it's hard pick against Louisville here for me. I know they've lost three games, but two of those, were on the road to Georgetown and at home to Syracuse by a total of four points. I'm not convinced this team is falling apart by any means and getting them on the road is going to be extremely difficult.
But one thing's for certain - I feel a lot better about Pitt's chances here than I did a couple of weeks ago.