Faced with what was likely his least impressive roster Pitt coach Jamie Dixon had his work cut out for him, especially considering it was his initial season in the ACC. When you consider these factors an 11-7 record in conference record and a 25-9 record overall is mighty impressive. 2 wins in the ACC tournament including a win over North Carolina shows that this gritty team is a true reflection of its hard nosed Coach.
Colorado came into the season with a lot of hype and were devastated by an early season injury to star Spencer Dinwiddie. They have had to transform from a high scoring team to a team with an offensive style much more similar to Pittsburgh’s in the absence of Dinwiddle. They secured two Pac-12 tournaments wins over USC and CAL which is impressive in its own right. Making it even more impressive is that they won by identical 59-56 scores. This shows they have managed to transform into a team capable of winning a low scoring game.
Josh Scott has stepped up big in Dinwiddle’s absence. While leading the team in scoring in rebounding he has also served as their emotional leader. Combine this with his team leading 4 assists a game for the season and he is clearly the engine that will drive this team. The biggest problem lies in that the team has struggled to find any consistency on the offensive end since the injuries. They need to limit Pittsburgh to one shot on their offensive possessions. Colorado struggles to rebound the basketball and if they don’t rebound they will not have any chance of getting a win. Don’t be surprised if they apply pressure to this Pittsburgh team, perhaps even a full court press, just so they can find ways to score points off of their defense.
Pittsburgh is coming off a strong performance against eventual ACC champion Virginia and appears to be getting stronger as the season has wore on. They are lead by two stars in Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna. Patterson averages 18 points and 5 rebounds a game while Zanna averages 13 points and 9 rebounds and 5 assists per contest. The problem is that they lack much else behind these two stars and if either plays poorly or is in foul trouble the Panthers will struggle mightily on both ends of the floor.
It is an interesting matchup of two teams that can generally be considered defensive specialists. Neither team is going to light up the scoreboard and whichever has the better shooting hand early on may very well be the winner since neither team is equipped to come back from a large deficit. The first 10 minutes of this game could very likely decide the outcome. The fact remains that Colorado has been a team in transition while Pittsburgh appears to be playing their best ball of the season.
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