It wasn't one of the best offensive performances, but Pitt got the job done against the Villanova Wildcats at home, winning 60-50. The victory, of course, gave Pitt the Big East championship.
I expected Notre Dame to falter today and didn't think the regular season title would come down to this game, but that didn't happen. The Irish have kept the pressure on, going 8-1 since their big win at Pitt. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure they're not the best team in the conference. If you held a gun to my head, I'd probably still go with Pitt, but I think the margin is almost negligible. I'm pretty interested to see what they'll do in the NCAAs.
But this game was all about Pitt and winning the Big East. And while winning the conference isn't the ultimate goal, I do think Pitt should lock up a No. 1 seed with today's victory. To win the toughest league (outright) in college basketball with only four losses on the season should hopefully be enough to be given some extra consideration by the selection committee. Barring something crazy like DePaul winning two conference games and then beating Pitt in an opening game for the Panthers, I don't see anyway this team doesn't get a No. 1 seed.
So what about today's game?
Well, earlier this week, I wrote about Pitt's stagnant first-half offense during the South Florida recap. That trend, unfortunately, continued today as Pitt stumbled to only 22 points in first half. The good news, at least, was that the defense held Villanova to only 18.
It's hard to keep mentioning the first-half struggles on offense, but at this point, what can you say?
The biggest difference-maker today was at the free throw line. Pitt had 26 attempts to Nova's 10, but the big surprise was that the Panthers actually took advantage at the stripe. 23-26? I'm sure Pitt may have shot that well from the line, but for the life of me, I can't remember when. In case you don't have a calculator handy, that comes out to 88.4%. No one missed more than one attempt and Ashton Gibbs, Gilbert Brown, and Lamar Patterson were a perfect 14-14.
Even the bench contributed - after I mentioned that the bench had been struggling lately, it was nice to see Travon Woodall, Dante Taylor, and Lamar Patterson put together a solid effort, scoring nearly 1/3 of the team's points.
Despite Maalik Wayns best Kemba Walker impersonation (27 points), Pitt held Villanova's offense in check and put together a great defensive effort.
Next up, some rest before their first Big East tournament game.