ACC Basketball

ACC Tournament, Semifinals: Pittsburgh vs. Virginia

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The 1-seeded Virginia Cavaliers may not be getting a ton of love nationally, but it doesn’t seem to be bothering them. After letting Florida State hang around in the first half, the Cavs went into second gear and pulled away from the Seminoles in their ACC tournament quarterfinals match up. The win was Virginia’s first tournament win since 1995.

What’s scary about Virginia is that on any given night, any player can be the guy who beats you. Against FSU, the Joe Harris show was back. Projected to be a ACC player of the year candidate, his stats took a dip this season as other players stepped up, but his 20 points (on 7-12 shooting) showed that he’s still a danger to put up big numbers.

Pittsburgh comes in riding a three-game winning streak (five of their last six). They have completely turned around a sinking season when they lost five of seven back in early February. While Lamar Patterson has earned the headlines this year, Pitt’s success has come via their seniors of late.

Point guard James Robinson is coming off a 19 points, six rebound game against North Carolina, but the real star has been forward Talib Zanna. In fact, he’s the early favorite for ACC Tournament MVP. In two games, his stat line looks like this: 36 points, 16-23 from the field, six assists to just three turnovers and 30, yes 30 rebounds. I’ve eaten steaks that have been less meaty than those stats.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Virginia over Pittsburgh, 48-45
With the game tied, Malcolm Brogdon nailed a game-winning three with 0.4 seconds on the clock, handing Pittsburgh their second straight home loss. In that game, senior James Robinson and Talib Zanna were crushed, combining for just 3 points, five rebounds and 2 assists.

The Panthers have looked really good lately and I’m starting to have a lot of faith in their upperclassmen, but this is still Virginia. Look for the Cavaliers to nail some open shots from deep and let’s not forget, they are still one of the best defensive teams in the nation and it’s hard to see them not finding away to make life difficult for Zanna in the paint.


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