From the moment on that autumn morning a few years ago that it was announced that Pitt would be heading to the ACC, many thoughts raced through a Pitt fan's head all at once. Teams like UConn, South Florida, and Rutgers were replaced with the likes of Florida State, Miami, and Virginia Tech on the gridiron. In addition, the Oakland Zoo wanted to prove their worth against the best of the best (yes, I did just use a Top Gun line). They wanted to show they were right up there with the Cameron Crazies and tonight, they'll get that chance.
It all starts tonight with a showdown at 7:00 p.m. at The Pete as the Panthers take on Duke. My household will be tense as the wife will pull on her old-school Bobby Hurley jersey and I will quickly sport my Pitt gear tonight (and tease here about that round point guard nailing a game-winner at MSG years ago). ESPN will show the game to the country and I think it's safe to assume that the Zoo will be ready. Both Pitt and Duke will come into this game ranked in the Top 20. The Panthers, in particular, have faced a tough schedule early and after a slip up against Syracuse, have reeled off four wins in a row.
It won't stop there, as Pitt will have to turn around and come face to face with another of the ACC's top teams that will test their mental status at home. Virginia will come into the game just outside of the Top 25 with a 15-5 record and as of this writing, are 6-1 in the conference. If the Cavs can come up with a win against Notre Dame, they too will bring a four-game winning streak into Oakland. The game will be televised on ESPNU and will tip off at 12:30pm.
It was brought up that Pitt has not beaten a team in the Top 40 all year. That could change quickly with strong performances and a little help from The Zoo this week. Last week's wins provided the Panthers with a little separation. Beating two of the conferences top teams, could set them up for a nice seed heading into their first appearance in the ACC Conference down the road.