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Pitt vs West Virginia Mountaineers Preview

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NCAA Basketball: Citadel at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: 8:30 pm

Opponent: West Virginia

Head Coach: Bob Huggins (15th year)

Conference: Big 12

Current Record: 1-0

Last Game: W 60-53 vs Oakland

2020 Season: 19-10 (11-6, 3rd)

Key Losses: F Derek Culver (14.3 ppg, 9.4 rpb, professional) G Miles McBride (15.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 4.8 apg, NBA)

Key Returners: Taz Sherman (13.4 ppg), Sean McNeil (12.2 ppg)

Impact Newcomers: Malik Curry (15.7 ppg with Old Dominion)

Last Meeting: WVU 68 Pitt 53

What we said in the recap: “In short, Pitt is not going to beat anyone in Division 1 if they shoot 3-25 in the second half.”

West Virginia will most likely be in that 2nd tier of Big 12 teams they seem to live in under Huggins. I could see them finishing anywhere from 3rd to 6th. The Mountaineers shot poorly in their first game (39.7% from field, 19% from three, 55.6% from line) but won on the strength of forcing 25 turnovers. They lost two huge pieces from last season’s team that earned a #3 seed in the tournament, but Huggins will once again discover what his team’s strength is this season and develop his game plan around that.

The key for me is how much Pitt can lean on John Hugley. He showed a plethora of post moves on his way to 27 points last game, but it is a lot easier to back down and spin past guys who are 6’8” and 200 lb vs the 6’7, 6’10” and 240 lb front court that West Virginia will deploy.

Predictions:

Rather than fill this space with a depressing score prediction, I’ll just throw out some random guesses at what will happen.

  • Pitt will finish with 20 or more turnovers.
  • Non Hugley/Odukale players will shoot better than 5-30.
  • Pitt will have a much better start than last game and be competitive around the halfway point of the first half.
  • West Virginia’s depth will be the difference as they run away in the second half.
  • Huggins will say something funny in the post game press conference.