Well if you’re a Pitt fan, this is the day you have been waiting for all season. Today, Pitt will tip-off their 2016 NCAA Tournament run when they face off against the Wisconsin Badgers at 6:50 pm in St. Louis.
The Panthers, who are a 10 seed in this years tournament are going to face a really tough matchup against the Badgers who received a 7 seed. Although Pitt’s record of 21-11 is one game better than Wisconsin’s 20-12 record, the Badgers have many more quality wins against a much tougher schedule. Over the course of the year, Wisconsin has beaten Michigan State, Indiana, Maryland, and Iowa. And that doesn’t include a 1 point loss to Indiana the first time they played and a 3 point loss to Maryland the first time they played as well. The only significant games that the Panthers have won this season have come against Notre Dame, Duke, and Syracuse 3 times (if you even consider Syracuse a significant win).
Pitt certainly has the players and the ability it takes to win, but Wisconsin plays a different style of basketball, similar to a Virginia. They are strong on the defensive side and are not the type of team to come out and put up huge numbers on the scoreboard. This season, they are 267th in the nation scoring 68.9 points per game compared to Pitt’s 76.0 points per game. But they are only allowing 64.6 points per game compared to Pitt’s 67.9.
But it seems that when the NCAA Tournament starts, stats and everything that just happened over the past season gets thrown out the window, because anything can happen now. Pitt desperately needs Mike Young, James Robinson, and Jamel Artis to step up and be the leaders that they need to be for this team. All three of these guys have struggled over the past few weeks and they need to put it behind them and play the type of basketball that Jamie Dixon has taught them. Pitt has had a really tough year, and without the win against Syracuse in the ACC Tournament, they probably would not even be in it at all. Playing tough defense will be key against the Badgers and they will need to stay patient on offense and not get overwhelmed by the pressure that they will face.
This game should be a tough defensive battle and I fully expect the outcome to be decided by less than 10 points, and maybe even only 5. From what I’ve seen from Pitt and heard about Wisconsin, I expect the winner of this game to go and knock of #2 Xavier in the next round of the tournament, assuming they win their game today. And if Pitt can play their own game and control the ball on the offensive side, they can be that team. They will be on TNT tonight at 6:50, so tune in!
For more Pitt News follow me on twitter @TheBurghBlog_BS or The Burgh Blog twitter account @TheBurghBlog