After losing a disappointing game to SMU last night, Pitt doesn't have much time to reflect. The Panthers face Marquette in the consolation game of the 2K Classic. Basically, it's a test to see who can avoid being dead last and losing both games.
It's not going to be an easy one, either. Marquette is actually slightly favored by a point and has shot the ball better. They've also been better on defense, allowing only 66.3 points per game. Like Pitt, they're 2-1. But they also have a better win at this point in easily defeating Vanderbilt.
Losing this one is obviously a worst-case scenario. Pitt was unimpressive in its opener against Eastern Michigan and if they lose again tonight, that's three pretty bad results out of four games and we haven't even gotten into the better teams the Panthers will face. It's early. It's the start of the Kevin Stallings era and he needs some time. But Pitt really needs to get this game to instill some hope.
The first game was about stopping the frontcourt presence of SMU's star, Semi Ojeleye (Spoiler Alert: They didn't). Marquette has a solid center in 6'11" Luke Fischer, who should be a bit of a handful for Michael Young and company, but this one is more about slowing down the Eagles' guards Jajuan Johnson and Haanif Cheatham. They combine for nearly 30 points a game and Johnson is the team's leading scorer while Cheatham leads the team in rebounding (yes, as a guard).
A lot of people, I imagine, will have to miss part or most of this one. If there's one thing they need to change for the future in this event, it's starting this one a little later or on different days. Tipoff is at the insane time of 4:30 p.m. on the east coast (game on ESPN2) when many people will still be working. Just another reason beating SMU would have been helpful. With the NBA on ESPN at 9, another college tournament on ESPNU at 9, and a college football game on ESPN at that time, they couldn't really go later. Different days of the week may have been a better option.
But if you're able/around, join us here in the open thread to comment live during the game.