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Duke hammers Pitt, sends Panthers packing

Well that went just about as awful as it possibly could have

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament Quarterfinals - Duke vs Pittsburgh Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

GREENSBORO, NC- What’s there to say? That was just about the worst 40 minutes of Pittsburgh Panthers basketball we’ve been subject to viewing this whole season, right when it mattered the most. It was never a contest, and Duke advanced to face Miami in the ACC semi-final tomorrow with a 96-69 win. Not all blame should be shouldered by the Panthers, this was a masterclass by a Duke team that’s beginning to gel and should become a force come March Madness.

Duke set the ACC tournament record for assists in a contest with 27, meaning 75% of their field goals came off assists. It’s outstanding, a testament to being the (significantly) better basketball team on the court from the tip to the final whistle. Kyle Filipowski scored 22 points, some of which came with a moderately injured ankle, and Tyrese Proctor put together a masterclass of a facilitator performance, finishing with 11 points and 10 assists.

Nike Sibande led the Panthers in scoring with 17, while Guillermo Diaz Graham added 14 points and 8 rebounds in an increased role. Both twins saw more time on the court than usual in an attempt to space out the floor and get something going offensively, an idea that had its moments but wasn’t entirely fruitful.

The important question is, was this loss embarrassing enough to knock Pitt from the bracket come Sunday? Ahead of today’s matchup the sentiment was the Panthers had done enough to earn a seed somewhere in the 11-9 range, but after today? After today, there are questions to be had. A trip to Dayton and a First Four matchup might be the best possible outcome. It’ll feel like an extra long wait till Sunday, and who knows what happens then.

In the meantime, keep praying for no bid thieves or upstart bubble teams, and the cards will fall how they may. At the moment it might not provide any solace, but did you really think that you would be pondering whether or not the Panthers would make the tournament this late into the season? Be happy to be where you are, I guess.