ACC Basketball

Panthers Try to Keep Hope Alive

Jared Wickerham / Getty Images North America

HOW WE GOT HERE
The Pittsburgh Panthers have won six of eight; an impressive run that includes victories over Notre Dame, North Carolina and a pair against Syracuse. Yet, they still only sit in ninth place (prior to the weekend) in the ACC and I don’t think that’s good enough to get them into the tournament. However, winning out could change my mind.

Wake Forest had won three of four, including upsets over NC State and Miami (Fl), yet they’ve now dropped three straight, although those three loses were to two ranked teams (Notre Dame and Virginia twice). They are coming off a 36-point butt-whipping in front of the home crowd.

FIVE DEEP THOUGHTS

  • While Pittsburgh’s Jamel Artis has had a fantastic month and a half of basketball, currently 8th in the ACC in points score (16.0 PPG) in conference play, the Panthers have excelled when others finally stepped up to share the scoring load. For a hot minute it was Sheldon Jeter, who sparked the UNC win with 22 points. In the second game against Syracuse, Chris Jones hit 5-6 from deep, scoring 19 points. Cameron Wright has three double-digit games in his last six.
  • On the inside, Michael Young is an undersized five and at times has struggled against elite size, but lately, he’s really been working hard around the rim and it’s paying off. An opportunist scorer, he is coming off a 22-point effort against Boston College. He was 6-for-7 against North Carolina and hit 10-17 in his two games against Syracuse. During the Panthers non-conference run, Young looked like he could be the best scoring option, but struggled to shoot at a high percentage once ACC play started. However, over the last three weeks, he’s established himself as the second best option behind Artis.
  •  Wake Forest’s Devin Thomas has so much potential it hurts to watch him struggle. He has the size and talent to take over games, but I’m just not sure mentally he’s there. Of course it doesn’t help that he’s surrounded by a true lack of talent. He’s especially struggled facing the Cavaliers in two of his last three games; scoring just five total points, hitting 1-for-5 from the floor, 3-for-7 from the line, just nine rebounds to go along with nine turnovers in 31 total minutes of play. He’s on the verge of becoming just the 16th player in Wake Forest history to have 1,000 career points and 700 rebounds, so it’s hard to believe he won’t be motivated.
  • Wake Forest’s Konstantinos Mitoglou is starting to squeeze out Codi Miller-McIntyre as the team’s second best scoring option. The 6-10 freshman prefers to shoot from deep and he has taken at least five threes in 10 of his last 11 games, hitting 46% from deep. Yet, he’s still not a bumper inside, with zero post game, hitting just six of his last 15 at the rim.
  • As always, rebounding could be the difference maker. Both teams are solid offensive rebounding teams for the year, but only the Panthers have managed to keep it up through ACC play (Pittsburgh is 4th in the ACC in Offensive rebound %, while Wake is just 11th). However, Wake Forest is much better on the glass on the defensive end (5th in the ACC, while Pitt is just 14th).

FINAL THOUGHT  

The Panthers have struggled to defend inside so a motivated Devin Thomas should/could be unstoppable. The Demon Deacons have responded well after rough games, so why not again.

WORTHLESS PREDICTION: Wake Forest, 74-73

 

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Wake Bursts Pittsburgh’s Bubble – ACC Basketball

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>