The Pitt men’s basketball team is set to get its season underway in less than a month, and while much of its schedule remains up in the air due to event cancelations and a late start to the season, one element of the schedule was clarified on Thursday, as Jon Rothstein of College Hoops Today reported that Pitt will face Northwestern on the road in the 2020 edition of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
The opponent will be a somewhat familiar one for Pitt, as Pitt defeated Northwestern 72-59 in the Fort Myers Tip-Off event on Nov. 27, 2019. However, prior to that, the last time Pitt and Northwestern met on the court was in 1996, and the Panthers hold a 4-1 all-time record against the Wildcats. So while the teams met recently, they have not faced off regularly.
This year’s matchup will pit a developing Pitt team against a Northwestern squad that has been fading under Chris Collins over the last three years. Last season, Northwestern went 8-23, which was the worst mark of Collins’ coaching career. That was down from 13-19 the year before, 15-17 the year before that and a 24-12 record in the 2016-17 season — the high-water mark of Collins’ time in Evanston.
Pitt has not been without its own recent woes, but the program is headed in the right direction under Jeff Capel, and it improved from 14-19 in his first season on the Pitt sidelines to 16-17 last year. Both were vast improvements over the 8-24 mark Kevin Stallings posted before his dismissal from the head coach position.
Aside from the game with Northwestern, little is known about Pitt’s schedule, as an official slate has yet to be released. However, what is known is that Pitt nixed the City Game with Duquesne earlier this year and was forced to reschedule this year’s Backyard Brawl with West Virginia for some time in the 2023-24 season. Pitt also had games with Central Michigan and Morgan State scheduled on or after the 2020-21 season’s Nov. 25 start date, so they may still be played. The matchup with Drexel may also make the final cut.
The ACC-Big Ten Challenge is set to be played on Dec. 8 and 9, and Wake Forest is the only ACC team out of the event this year. The other pairings were all revealed by Rothstein, and the marquee matchups include Illinois at Duke, Michigan State at Virginia, Louisville at Wisconsin, and Indiana at Florida State.
Pitt is 3-3 in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge since it began playing in the ACC in 2013. The team has beaten Penn State, Maryland and Rutgers and lost to Indiana, Purdue and Iowa. Pitt did not play in the event in 2017, and its most recent result was a 71-60 win over Rutgers at the Petersen Events Center on Dec. 3, 2019.