Pitt men’s basketball returns to the Petersen Events Center riding a four-game losing streak to face Colgate.
The Panthers dropped their last four games to Vanderbilt, UMBC, and both Minnesota and Virginia in the final moments. Pitt had a golden opportunity to take down the Cavaliers on the road but fell 57-56 in the ACC opener.
Here are five things to know ahead of Pitt’s (2-6) home matchup against the Colgate Raiders (4-5).
At the Buzzer
The Panthers have had an opportunity to come away with a statement win in their last two games, each going down to the final possession. Pitt plays a scrappy style of basketball and doesn’t have the ability to stay in shootout-type games full of offensive production.
One thing to keep an eye on is the confidence of the group moving forward. Two-straight deflating losses which on one shot could have been won can take the wind out of the sails of a struggling team and spiral things in a worse direction.
With the non-conference schedule concluding after Christmas, Pitt has time on its side to be on the opposite end of late-game heroics. To win this type of way moving forward, the Panthers must stay contained defensively to counteract their offensive limitations. Head coach Jeff Capel must make the necessary adjustments to get back on track and break the streak.
In Need of an Impact
Pitt’s starting five has changed frequently through eight games and was once again affected against Virginia with Femi Odukale out with an ankle injury. The attention turns to William Jeffress, Mouhamadou Gueye, and Onyebuchi Ezeakudo to be key contributors offensively and trade buckets with Colgate.
Daniel Oladapo and Noah Collier, along with Nate Santos, are unique pieces off the bench who have shown flashes of impactful minutes. Colgate will come out of the gates shooting early and often and challenge the Panthers from the start.
The Panthers need to slow down the pace and succeed in their inside game. Once again, the most impactful aspect of the game for Pitt should be rebounding, but shooting the lights out might be the only way to succeed and have a chance Thursday. If two of the players mentioned play well along with John Hugley, Pitt has the chance to surprise people with a win in an otherwise frustrating season to date.
The Fate of Colgate
The Colgate Raiders hail out of the Patriot League and have been a frequent qualifier for the NCAA Tournament in recent history. The Raiders clinched their ticket to March Madness in 2019 and 2021 thanks to their quick style of offense and ability to hit the three-point shot.
Colgate stands out as one of the best teams from downtown in the country. The Raiders make almost 12 threes-per-game (11.8), good for ninth-best in the country, and shoot just over 40% from behind the arc. It’s a tale of two cities for the Raiders and Panthers, as Pitt relies much less on three-pointers and more on high percentage shots.
Colgate also hits at an over 75% clip from the line, close to 50th in all of basketball, and shares the ball well. Ranking in the top 15 in assists and taking care of the ball turnover-wise, the Raiders pose a tough opponent for any team, but especially one who struggles to keep up offensively. The team defeated Columbia 89-61 in their last matchup and also took down Syracuse on the road to break a 54-game losing streak against the Orange.
Former Lincoln Park star Nelly Cummings leads the explosive Colgate offense with team-highs in points (17.7), minutes (33.2), three-point percentage (55%), and free-throw percentage (91%).
Colgate is favored by 3.5 points in Thursday afternoon’s latest odds.
Pitt ended last season 11-10-1 against the spread and 5-3 on the road. The Panthers are 4-4 against the spread this season.
The over/under for the Panthers’ first of a five-game homestand is set at 136.5 points.
Colgate has only covered the spread twice this season.
Broadcast, Radio Info
The Colgate and Pitt matchup will air on the ACC Network Thursday night beginning at 8 p.m.
The game can also be heard live on sports radio 93.7 The Fan.
Pitt continues this five-game homestand Sunday at 7 p.m. against Monmouth and airs on the ACC Network and 93.7 The Fan.