The Pitt basketball team was knocked out of the ACC Tournament on Thursday with a 96-69 loss to Duke in Greensboro. The Panthers found themselves down 12–0 before they even knew what hit them, and Duke cruised to an easy win from there.
Here are three things that stood out about Pitt’s loss to Duke on Thursday.
The defensive crisis continues
Duke really dropped the paddle in the second half on Thursday against Pitt. The core rotation of Duke players reached 86 points on a Darik Whitehead bucket with about 8 minutes left, but the reserve made only four shots down the stretch for the Blue Devils, otherwise we’d be talking about how Pitt scored a . 100 marks are allowed in Sarthak. The March basketball game with their NCAA tournament hasn’t quite kicked off yet.
Talk about defiance.
Unfortunately for this Pit team, this is nothing new and has been a troubling trend of late. The Panthers have really slowed down the stretch defensively here, allowing more than 80 points in four of their last five games. Duke tied Pitt with 48 points in each half on Thursday. This comes on the heels of the Panthers allowing a 15-win Georgia Tech team to score 50 points in the second half yesterday. Dating back to the end of the regular season, Notre Dame hung 88 on Pitt, and even in the winning effort, the Panthers broke down and allowed Syracuse to score 82 points.
It’s not good.
Duke shot an impressive 62% from the field and had a team-leading 27 assists on 36 field goals made. The Blue Devils connected on 11 3-pointers for the game, but they got anything they wanted inside with 46 points in the paint. The constant runs at the start of each half came because Pitt certainly couldn’t match them offensively, but also because the Panthers were allowing shots at the basket too easily.
Duke didn’t crush Pitt on the glass with a 30–25 advantage, but it was another game in which the Panthers out-rebounded. Pitt has had all kinds of problems providing offensive rebounds and second-chance points, and while Duke didn’t dominate there, it was still another advantage they had to overcome on top of hot shooting.
Pitt needs the shots to win, but they also need the defense to somehow turn the tables here next week. If you’re built as a three-point shooting team, it’s easy to play from behind and come back, but allowing the team to shoot 62% even when shots are falling is not something any team wants to do. Can cross
not enough three
Pitt needed to make at least 10 pointers to have a chance in this, but the way it turned out, they probably needed a lot more than that. The Panthers’ defensive issues have been well documented at this point and they are not going to suddenly become a better rebounder and defender 34 games into the season.
What has made Pitt a good, even a tournament team, has been its execution on the offensive end this season. The Panthers can be hot on the outside with the best of them, and on Thursday it was never in the cards.
Duke shut down all driving lanes on Thursday with its size, but fell just enough on Pitt’s three-point shooters to never let them get comfortable from behind the arc. The defensive effort by Duke led to forced, competitive shots in the lane and never allowed Pitt to get comfortable from three-point range.
Pitt came into this game with 299 made three-pointers as a team in the first 32 games of the season. He averaged 9.3 from the deep game, good for second in the ACC, but the Panthers went just 5-of-18 against Duke on Thursday.
Blake Hinson came into the game as Pitt’s leading scorer, averaging just 16 points per game, but he was limited to just 5 points on Thursday. He was just 1-for-4 from three, his lone score with 9:41 left in the second half making it a 79–49 game. Pitt isn’t going to win a lot of games if Hinson is held to five points, but at the same time, he didn’t look open in the 19 minutes he logged against Duke.
Greg Elliott connected on four three-pointers in yesterday’s win over Georgia Tech, which was a welcome sight after going goalless against Miami, but he also struggled to find cracks in Duke’s defense. Elliott finished with 2 points on a 1-for-4 shooting effort. He missed his lone three-point attempt, which came when Pitt was trailing by 34 points in the second half.
Nike Sibande (3) and Jorge Diaz Graham (1) combined for four of Pitt’s five three-pointers, more than the starting lineup. Pitt is a team that pretty much survives off the three-point shot, and it’s really no secret. Hinson and Elliott have scored big this season, as has Nellie Cummings, and that will give them a chance to win in their next game. Even though it seemed like the defense played more of a factor in Thursday’s loss to Duke, Pitt could not win any games moving forward with only five makes from deep.
resume is set
At this point there is nothing Pitt can do but wait. With Thursday’s loss, the Panthers put their NCAA tournament case to rest with a 22–11 overall record. Pitt earned an ACC Tournament win on Wednesday against Georgia Tech. It was a game that many said was just what Pitt needed in order to feel comfortable making the NCAA tournament.
We’ll see if that was true or not come Sunday.
The taste of a 27-point loss to Duke in the final game before Selection Sunday will certainly raise some concerns for the Pitt team and its followers.
However, the 22 wins that came before this should not mask the defeat. We always hear about the NCAA tournament selection committee talking about the whole ‘body of work’, and while the last audition was fruitless for Pitt, it’s just one data point that goes into making that decision.
The Panthers have a lot to offer as an NCAA tournament hopeful. They had 14 ACC wins and were in contention to win the league on the final day of the regular season. The Panthers have 7 combined ‘Quad 1’ and ‘Quad 2’ wins, including wins over ranked teams such as Virginia and Miami. Pitt posted seven road wins on the year, including one over the second-ranked Big Ten team, Northwestern.
There’s a lot going for Pitt’s NCAA tournament resume, but there are some question marks as well. Pitt hasn’t been heavily favored in the computer rankings this season, as they’ve heard a lot about the ‘Quad-4’ loss to Florida State, and adding to that the year-end loss at Notre Dame. Didn’t get help. ,
Same is the case with ACC. The league isn’t highly regarded even by computer rankings, and failing to make the semi-finals in a league with a 5-6 bid is certainly cutting it close to Pitt’s share.
Heading off against Buzzsaw Pitt at Duke, I’m not sure what it would take for them to win the game, but keeping it close and competitive could put some minds at ease going into Sunday. Pitt has probably done enough to make the NCAA tournament, and we’ll know in a few days.