It’s a battle of polar opposites from the ACC up in the Steel City. The #1 Virginia Cavaliers are on the road as they make the trip to face the dismal Pitt Panthers Saturday afternoon. Virginia won their second straight as they took down Georgia Tech 65-54 at home Wednesday night. Pitt lost their 16th straight game as they were defeated 63-57 at home by Wake Forest Wednesday night. The Cavaliers own a 13-4 edge in the all-time series and have taken two straight, including a 75-63 win in the last meeting, which came in the ACC Tournament on March 8, 2017.
Virginia Cavaliers Look to Maintain Hold On #1 Ranking
Virginia bounced back from their overtime loss to Virginia Tech by winning two straight: their win over the Yellow Jackets clinched the ACC regular season title and the top seed in the ACC Tournament next month. The Cavaliers improved to 25-2 overall and 14-1 in the ACC with the victory. Virginia led by one at the half and relied on their relentless defense in the second half: Georgia Tech scored just five points over the final 7:35 of the contest. The Cavaliers shot 47.9 percent from the field and seven of 14 from beyond the arc. Ty Jerome was the lone player in double figures for Virginia with 18 in the win.
The Cavaliers are mediocre offensively, ranking 308th in scoring offense with 67.6 points per game. Virginia is 314th in rebounding with 32.5 boards per contest and 178th with 13.7 assists per game. The Cavaliers are #1 in the nation in scoring defense as they allow a measly 52.7 points a contest. Virginia shoots 46.1 percent from the floor as a team this year. The Cavaliers are averaging 7.5 three pointers a night on 38.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Virginia shoots 76.3 percent from the free throw line as a team this season. Kyle Guy leads Virginia with 14.9 points per game. Devon Hall is one of two other players scoring in double figures with 12 points a night. Ty Jerome (10 points, 3.9 assists), Isaiah Wilkins, Nigel Johnson, Mamadi Diakite and De’Andre Hunter each contribute at least five points a game.
Pitt Panthers Still Winless in ACC Play
Pitt has had a miserable season and conference play has been the bane of their existence. The Panthers dropped to 8-21 overall and 0-16 in the ACC after falling to the Demon Deacons in their last contest. Pitt only has two cracks left at picking up a win in conference play before the ACC Tournament. The Panthers led by one at the half, gave up the lead on the opening possession of the second half and never led again. Pitt shot 36.5 percent from the field and connected on 10 of 30 three point attempts while sinking only nine of 15 free throw attempts. Marcus Carr and Jared Wilson-Frame each had 11 to lead the Panthers in the loss.
The Panthers are just 344th in the nation in scoring offense with 63 points per game. Pitt is tied for 334th in rebounding with 31.5 boards per game and is 246th with 12.7 assists per contest. Defensively, the Panthers have been average, ranking 186th by allowing 72.8 points per contest. Jared Wilson-Frame leads the team’s active players with 12.7 points a night. Ryan Luther contributed 12.7 points plus 10.1 boards a night, Marcus Carr puts up 10.2 points plus 4.2 assists a night and Shamiel Stevenson is good for 8.9 points plus 4.6 rebounds per contest. Luther is done for the year with a stress reaction in his foot that isn’t recovering as quickly as expected. He will apply for a medical hardship. Khameron Davis, Jonathan Milligan, Terrell Brown and Parker Stewart are the only other players averaging more than 2.6 points a night for the Panthers this season. Pitt is shooting 41.4 percent from the floor as a team. The Panthers hit 8.1 three pointers a game and knock down 33.2 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc. Pitt is sinking only 69.4 percent of their chances at the stripe this year.
- Cavaliers are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 road games
- Cavaliers are 8-1-1 ATS in their last 10 vs. Atlantic Coast
- Panthers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games overall
- Panthers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 vs. Atlantic Coast
- Panthers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record
Pitt has been abysmal in conference play and the proof is in their record. Virginia already has clinched the ACC regular season crown and the top seed for the ACC Tournament but they want to keep winning in order to keep themselves on the top seed line for the NCAA Tournament. The Cavaliers have plenty of experience and maturity, which has carried them to the top of the rankings. Look for Virginia to take care of business against an overmatched Pitt squad, who sees a winless conference season staring them in the face.
Pick: Virginia Cavaliers
This one has the potential to get ugly on the scoreboard. Pitt has been blown out repeatedly in conference play: they have eight conference losses by at least 15 points and two more than came by 14. The loss to Wake Forest marked just their third ACC loss by six points or less this season. Pitt is in the bottom 10 of the nation in scoring offense and they have to deal with a team that gives up fewer points than anyone else in the country. Virginia makes things miserable for opposing teams on the offensive end of the floor. The Cavaliers don’t do much offensively but when you allow under 53 points a game, you don’t have to.
The under is 19-6-1 in the Cavaliers’ last 26 Saturday games, 36-13-2 in their last 51 road games and 8-3 in their last 11 games following a ATS loss. Pitt has seen the under go 5-0 in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a winning road record, 24-4 in their last 28 games following a ATS win, 17-4 in their last 21 home games and 21-6 in their last 27 after a straight up loss. The teams have stayed under the total in five of the last seven meetings: with Virginia’s stifling defense and Pitt’s weak offense, this one seems ready to stay under the total as well.