Pitt announced in a press release on Wednesday that Saturday’s matchup with North Carolina at the Petersen Events Center will be played before a sellout crowd. While general seating for the Panthers’ ACC opener is no longer available at the box office, tickets are still available on the secondary market, with most secondary sellers’ cheapest offerings in the $40 to $50 range.
In addition to marking Pitt head coach Jeff Capel’s first conference tilt since leaving his post as Duke’s associate head coach, the game pits the Panthers against the 15th-ranked team in the country and gives fans a glimpse at what has become of Pitt transfer Cameron Johnson.
Johnson was the top player lost during the exodus of talent that occurred after Kevin Stallings’ first season as Pitt’s head coach. Since transferring to Chapel Hill in 2017, the sharpshooter has bounced back from a knee injury and taken his game to a new level, as he leads the Tar Heels in points and steals per game, with 16.7 and 1.3, respectively.
Of course, for most in attendance, the main point of interest will be the home team and whether or not Capel’s young and talented squad can stand up to its first conference test after a promising showing over 13 non-conference games. During that span, the Panthers went 10-3 and put on impressive showings against St. Louis and Iowa.
The sellout is Pitt’s first since Feb. 28, 2016, when the Panthers picked up their last big win of the Jamie Dixon era, topping then-No. 15 Duke 76-62 before a crowd of 12,508. In that matchup, Jamel Artis, Sheldon Jeter, Ryan Luther, James Robinson and Mike Young all reached double-figure point totals. Johnson came off the bench in that game, adding a three-pointer.
No players remain from Pitt’s 2015-16 roster, so this will be the first time anyone on the Panthers’ current roster has played before a sellout crowd at the Petersen Events Center. They'll perform before at least one more full house at the Pete this season too, as Pitt's Jan. 22 game with Duke sold out as well.
The atmosphere on Saturday should make for a memorable experience, and it could even help convince a few recruits to come to Pitt. Florida transfer and former four-star forward Chase Johnson will reportedly be in attendance along with 2020 center John Hugley and 2021 guard Bryce McGowens. Cam Thomas, a coveted 2020 guard, previously noted that he may be at the game as well.
Tipoff for the Pitt-North Carolina matchup is scheduled for Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.