Unlike a lot of men’s basketball games this season, I’m actually a little intrigued by this one.
That’s not necessarily because Pitt has a great chance at victory here. They’re 10-point underdogs, even at home, and were beaten by Syracuse by 14 on the road less than two weeks ago.
Rather, I’m interested in seeing how the team comes out after what can only be described as a demoralizing loss against NC State earlier this week.
The loss would have been bad as it was with Pitt up by nine and only about six minutes left to play. But for a team that has gone winless in the ACC and hasn’t had a victory since defeating Towson more than a month ago, it was just a terrible for those guys.
The real question is if they’re fully recovered. I’m inclined to believe not but I also think they’ll come out with a lot of intensity tomorrow and be no less focused on trying to win.
I don’t typically pay much attention to quotes from players or coaches unless they say something a bit unexpected or something that contradicts something else. But for what it’s worth, Stallings is mostly a straight shooter and indicated they were ready to go the next day in practice, showing their ‘youthful exuberance.’
Things might be a little different if the Panthers were facing a team like Duke. To lose that game and then try to get up for arguably the toughest team they would see all season would be tough. But while Syracuse is certainly the favorite here, they also represent a team closer to the middle of the pack in the ACC, and that might not be so threatening. The Orange are ‘only’ 3-4 in conference play and the teams they’ve beaten, Pitt, Virginia Tech, and Boston College, are all in the bottom six teams of the conference standings.
Better still, Pitt actually proved the could play with Syracuse. They held a lead inside of two minutes left in the first half in the first game and were down by only four with under eight minutes left in the game when the train started coming off the tracks. Like most games, the Panthers endured a horrible stretch, scoring only five points in about a 12-minute period in the second half, which ended any chances of a win. Pitt, however, played them pretty tough most of the game.
There hasn’t been much to look forward to this season but I’m interested in seeing how the Panthers rebound after last week.