Pitt (8-5, 4-4 ACC) looks to put its three-game losing streak to a halt on Wednesday night as it takes on the No. 16 Virginia Tech Hokies at 7 p.m. at home.
Here are five things to know going into the mid-week matchup at Petersen Events Center.
PITT LOOKING TO SNAP THREE-GAME SKID
Since starting off its season 8-2, Pitt has lost three straight games, falling to Wake Forest, North Carolina, and Notre Dame. The Panthers have scored an average of 66 points per game on an average of 40% shooting from the field in those three games.
Although the Panthers have had success this season defending the perimeter, in the three recent losses they have struggled to stop the opposition from outside. Wake Forest shot 46%, 47% from downtown while the Irish converted on 54% of their 3-pointers. Pitt still ranks second in the ACC in defensive 3-point field goal percentage and sixth in overall defensive field goal percentage.
In the three losses, Justin Champagnie has continued to dominate the opposition, posting 17,23, and 19-point performances. However, the team’s second and third scoring options Xavier Johnson and Au’Diese Toney have struggled mightily during the skid. Johnson, who is averaging 13.2 points per game on the season, only averaged 8.7 in the last three games. Toney, who is averaging 14.7 points per game overall, has only scored an average of nine points in the three losses.
VIRGINIA TECH FINDING CONSISTENCY
In the 2020-21 season, consistency has been one of the things lacking across the board in all of college basketball. After a win over the ACC’s top team Virginia, Virginia Tech head coach Mike Young had some high praise for his team and how they have found that among all the uncertainty in this year.
“It’s a real team,” Young said about his squad. “They don’t care who gets the credit, just another Hokie win, and we’ve managed to do that pretty consistently. I did not think we were very good against Wake Forest. We were bad against Syracuse. We were not very good offensively against Notre Dame. But we were really, really good defensively. The mantra around here is your defense travels. We should be really good in that regard.”
The Hokies defense ranks fifth in the conference in opponent field goal percentage, third in rebounding defense, and fourth in defensive 3-point field goal percentage. In its four away games this season, Virginia Tech has given up an average of just 65.5 points per game, including a performance against Notre Dame in which it held the Irish, who just put up 84 on Pitt, to 51 points.
PITT DEFENSE TRENDING DOWNWARD
While Virginia Tech’s defense has been improving as of late, Pitt’s has been doing the opposite. The Panthers have given up at least 73 points in five straight games, including an 84-point outburst by Notre Dame.
While Pitt ranks in the top half of the conference in scoring defense, field goal percentage defense, 3-point field goal percentage defense, and rebounding margin, the Panthers offense has still not been good enough to overcome defensive lapses.
In its last three games, Pitt has lost by a combined 37 points, including the 26-point blowout loss to the Irish. In that game, four different players scored at least 14 points for Notre Dame, headlined by Cormac Ryan’s 19-point performance coming back from injury.
HOKIES RANKED COMING INTO THE PETE
The Panthers are 0-8 in their last eight games against ranked opponents and have not beat a ranked team since they took down No. 11 Florida State in January of 2019.
Virginia Tech comes into town ranked No. 16 in the latest AP poll with a record of 13-3. The Hokies currently sit at No. 29 in both the NCAA’s NET rankings as well as Kenpom.com’s rankings. They are currently 2-2 on the road this season with wins at Notre Dame and Wake Forest and losses at Syracuse and Louisville.
Some of the Hokies’ strongest wins this year have come in games against Villanova, Clemson, Duke, and Virginia. They are currently the second-best team in the ACC and hold a 7-2 conference record.
According to popular betting service BetOnline, Virginia Tech is currently a 4-point favorite against Pitt. The Hokies are 2-2 against the spread in road contests this season and 10-6 overall ATS. Pitt has lost three straight against the spread, including a blowout loss against Notre Dame.
The over/under for Wednesday night’s game is currently set at 135.5. The two teams rank eight and ninth in the conference in scoring, with Pitt averaging 72.3 points per game and the Hokies averaging 72.1.
Wednesday night’s game at Petersen Events Center will tip-off at 7 p.m. and be broadcast on AT&T SportsNet.
Midweek matchup vs. the Hokies.
— Pitt Basketball (@Pitt_MBB) February 3, 2021