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Cardiac Hill ACC Preview: #5 Pittsburgh Panthers

The Pitt Panthers come in at number five in our ACC basketball preview

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Coach - Jamie Dixon (11 season at Pitt, 288-96 record, 10 NCAA Tournament appearances)

Arena - Petersen Events Center (12,508 capacity)

2013-14 Record - 26-10 (11-7 ACC)  Lost to Florida 61-45 in NCAA Third Round

Top Returning Players (Italics = projected starter)

-- Cameron Wright 6'4" SR SG  10.5 PPG  3.3 RPG  2.6 APG

-- Durand Johnson 6'6" JR SF  8.8 PPG

-- James Robinson 6'3" JR PG  7.6 PPG  4.1 APG

-- Michael Young 6'9" SO PF  6.0 PPG  4.1 RPG

-- Jamel Artis 6'7" SO PF 4.9 PPG 2.9 RPG

-- Josh Newkirk 6'1" SO PG  4.6 PPG  1.2 APG

-- Derrick Randall 6'9" SR C  2.1 PPG  2.4 RPG

-- Chris Jones 6'6" SO 2.4 PPG

-- Joe Uchebo 6'10" JR

Impact Newcomers

-- Sheldon Jeter 6'8" SO SF Transfer from Vanderbilt

The Scoop - Pitt loses their top two scorers from last season in Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna, but they bring back every other member from their rotation last season. James Robinson is back in his third year as a starting point guard, and will be as steady as ever. He is not a flashy player, but is a good floor general. Cam Wright will be sidelined early in the season, but will be back to be the team's top shooting guard. Josh Newkirk is an intriguing returnee, and could push for starter minutes as a guard in Wright's absence.

Durand Johnson, Chris Jones, and Vanderbilt transfer Sheldon Jeter will all be vying for minutes on the wing. Michael Young and Jamel Artis often platooned the power forward position, but many are expecting a breakout year for Young; while Artis should also see a significant jump in minutes as well. Pitt has options at center with Joseph Uchebo, Derrick Randall, and Tyrone Haughton, but each has their own set of questions. Although, Uchebo appears to be the front runner to start the season opener.

Final Outlook - Pitt has a deep team that should be able to hang with anybody.  The Panthers played many of the top teams to the last second last year, and were not far away from being a middle of the pack ACC team to one that could have been near the very top. The Panthers have a lot of different weapons and options to be a dangerous team to the top four teams of the ACC, and they will more than likely qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the 13th time in 14 years.

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