As of Tuesday morning, Pitt was one of only two remaining Power Five basketball programs without a win in conference play, with the other being Illinois of the Big Ten.
So far, the Panthers have gone 0-7 in the ACC, as the team, which is composed largely of freshmen, has struggled through the “second first year” of head coach Kevin Stallings’ tenure.
“This is not a forgiving league,” Stallings said Monday, according to The Virginian-Pilot. “There are games where we have a bad three- or four-minute stretch, and it can be the difference in the game for us.”
The Fighting Illini have gone 0-8 so far in their conference, most recently losing 87-74 to No. 6 Michigan State on Monday night. Much like Pitt, the Illini are adapting to a new coach, as Brad Underwood is in his first year in Champaign.
The bad news for the Pitt faithful is that the Panthers and Illini appear to be on divergent paths, and the Panthers seem more likely to be the last remaining Power Five team without a conference win. Pitt may clinch that status sooner rather than later, too, as ESPN predicts Illinois will beat Indiana on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, ESPN heavily favors the opposition in the Panthers’ 11 remaining regular-season games, as its matchup predictor places Pitt’s odds of winning at greater than 3 percent just five times. Pitt’s odds of winning, according to ESPN’s power index, don’t exceed 25 percent in any given game for the remainder of the season.
At this point, even California, which has gone 7-13 overall and ranks below Pitt as the worst Power Five program in the KenPom rankings, was able to notch a fluky 77-74 win over Stanford on Dec. 30 to open its conference slate. That and the letup in Illinois’ upcoming schedule could see Pitt’s already dismal standing in the Power Five hierarchy rethought, and not for the better.
Pitt and Illinois will each have an opportunity to right the ship Wednesday night, as the Illini will face Indiana at home while the Panthers take on NC State at the Petersen Events Center. Tipoff for both games is at 9 p.m. ET.