Last time out, Pitt routed Boston College for another ACC win. Tonight, the Panthers get a bit tougher of a task in North Carolina State. But that, of course, isn't saying much as the Eagles are likely the worst team in the conference.
The Wolfpack could give Pitt a run here, but have some problems of their own. Like Boston College, they are still winless in the ACC. They've come close with three losses of five points or less, but overall, still look like a team with issues. Things started out poorly for them with a 17-point loss (at home, mind you) to William & Mary and in the ACC, things have been a mess as well. Also, as I pointed out in an article on Monday, they just aren't very deep, playing seven regulars. This is one of those games where you can see them keeping things close, but running out of steam at the end as those close ACC losses would suggest.
Things aren't all bad on their front, though, and Pitt has some reasons to be concerned. North Carolina State defeated major-conference foes LSU (previously ranked) and Missouri by double digits and has showed some glimpses of being decent. They also held their own in a five-point loss to Louisville and is surely no pushover.
With all due respect to the Maverick Rowan hype as well, the guy Pitt really has to be wary of is Cat Barber, who is the team's leading scorer and torched them last year for a career-high 34 points in the ACC Tournament. The Panthers held him to nine points in each of his previous three matchups against them, so calling him a Pitt-killer isn't quite accurate. But he gave them fits in that conference tournament game last year and they will have to try to contain him.
NC State can be dangerous here for the reasons I just gave. At home, however, this is still a game that Pitt should win if they want to be taken seriously.
Game time is at 8:00 p.m.