So, if you say you saw that coming, you're either:
1. Watching way too much basketball
2. A homer
Most pundits were picking Pitt to defeat Colorado today - that part obviously wasn't surprising. But in an 8/9 game, you expect things to be fairly close. I predicted about an 8-point win for the Panthers, but let's be honest - if Pitt lost it really wouldn't have been that surprising.
Instead, Pitt had other thoughts - namely, a 77-48 beatdown of Colorado in their first NCAA Tournament game this year.
Pitt really just gave us another glimpse of what happens when they play well. When that happens, they're next to impossible to beat. Part of it's tied to the opponent, but a lot of it is Pitt just coming out and doing things they're capable of like forcing turnovers, rebounding, and making shots.
The surprising thing here is that Pitt did that without getting a lot from Lamar Patterson. The team's 'best player' again turned in a subpar game with a modest ten points on only 4-11 shooting. Even adding in the four rebounds and assists he had doesn't make that a great game for him and you can argue that he had the worst game of all of the starters, actually.
Talib Zanna led the way with 18 points. Mike Young had nine points and three rebounds, and was far more efficient from the field with 4-6 shooting. James Robinson had only three points and was 1-6, but had eight assists to only one turnover, six rebounds to lead the team, and three steals. Cam Wright added 11, and had three steals, four rebounds, and was also more efficient than Patterson at 4-9 from the field. This isn't bash Lamar day, but Pitt could really use more from him. It wouldn't be a surprise if he's less than 100% right now because you really expect more out of him in a game that is a must win.
Let's be clear here, too - this wasn't really an 8/9 game. Colorado was overseeded and as I've been saying for a while now, Pitt was underseeded. This was really more like a 6/11 matchup with the Buffaloes missing their best player. An 8/9 game is essentially a matchup of equal teams and this wasn't that.
Then there's this weird idea that says maybe the Panthers are just hitting their stride right now. That instead of having already peaked as so many Pitt teams have done, that they're actually getting better this time of year. That's pretty hard to ignore, to be honest. Since the narrow overtime win against Clemson, look at what Pitt has done - routed Wake Forest, beat North Carolina in a game they mostly dominated until the end, nearly beat ACC Champion Virginia in a virtual road game, and then destroyed Colorado. This team is just playing really, really well right now.
Next up for Pitt is top overall seed Florida. I'm not sure they'll come out on top but if they play like they did today, make no mistake - they will. Again, part of it is tied to the fact that Colorado isn't as good as Pitt. But the Panthers are a pretty good team in their own right. To not give them a chance against the Gators would be the height of foolishness.
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