Pitt's ACC season got off to a rocky start with a convincing defeat at the hands of North Carolina State. Since then, the Panthers have righted the ship to a degree, winning three out of four games.
As if that weren't reason enough to be optimistic regarding the direction of the team, the Wolfpack are 13-6, have beaten Duke, and then lost by only two to North Carolina State a few days later - giving the perception that they're a pretty decent team this season.
But while you should be thankful for the Panthers' recent surge, it's still too early to tell if this team is truly turning a corner for several reasons.
Here are five:
1. Pitt struggled badly against Boston College ...: The Panthers needed a miracle finish and even once they got to overtime where you expect their momentum may have carried them, Pitt still won by only a single point. A win is a win, but that game was one that really shouldn't have went the Panthers' way and it can be argued that a Boston College collapse was more responsible for the outcome.
2. ... and (less so) against Georgia Tech: Pitt looked good at times in their game against Georgia Tech, but after building a nine-point lead in the first half, the Yellow Jackets came back to tie things up at halftime. The game remained close and Georgia Tech even got it to three with a minute left in the game. Pitt made their free throws at the end, and it's a good thing they did, as the team won by only a modest five points.
3. The Panthers have faced some of the ACC's weaker teams: North Carolina State looks like they're for real, but as of Saturday, two of Pitt's three conference wins came against the two teams at the bottom of the conference in Boston College and Georgia Tech. Florida State, at 9-9, is also in the bottom third of conference teams. The combined ACC record of the teams that Pitt has beaten is 1-13. Pitt has beaten them ... but so has everybody else.
4. Pitt has played mostly at home in this stretch: The Panthers are 3-1 in this four-game stretch, but three of those games have been at home. There was the narrow win on the road at Boston College, but the Panthers were beaten pretty badly at home against Clemson. Pitt has more conference road games to play than they do at home, and that will be a challenge - the Panthers are only 1-3 on the road this season.
5. The team has very real issues: More specifically, the Panthers continue to shoot poorly and lose the rebounding battle. Consider this: the Panthers have yet to shoot 45% in an ACC game this season. And they haven't only been outrebouned in three of the five conference games, but they were beaten badly on the boards in two of them, experiencing double-digit deficits on the glass in two contests. Pitt may be 3-2 in the conference but is failing in two very essential parts of the game.
Pitt has managed to pick up some wins in the non-conference schedule - and they should be lauded for that since they've made some key plays late to win games against Georgia Tech and Boston College. But this is still very much a wait-and-see, and we'll find out more about the game in these upcoming games that will be significantly more difficult.
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