Saturday marks the final game of the 2021-22 regular season for the Pitt men’s basketball team.
The Panthers lost in blowout fashion 86-56 in the home finale against Duke Tuesday night. Jeff Capel’s team now turns their attention from the 1st to 2nd best team in the ACC standings playing at Notre Dame Saturday afternoon.
Here are five things to know ahead of Pitt’s (11-19, 6-13 ACC) matchup against the Notre Dame Fishing Irish (21-9, 14-5).
Last Time Out
Tuesday’s game against Duke was one of the final stops of Mike Krzyzewski’s farewell tour. The Blue Devils avenged a 79-73 loss the last time the two teams met on Jan. 19, 2021. Star forwards Paolo Banchero and AJ Griffin both shined, scoring 21 and 12 points, respectively, and combining to shoot 12-for-17.
John Hugley recorded 19 of Pitt’s 56 points. Jamarius Burton joined Hugley as the only other player in double figures adding 13 points. The Panthers have now lost three straight to Georgia Tech, Miami, and Duke and the bumpy road does not flatten with Notre Dame.
A rematch of Pitt’s second game of ACC play, Notre Dame won 68-67 at the Petersen Events Center back on Dec. 28. The Irish fought back in the second half after the Panthers gained control to win the early-season matchup. Not much has changed in the Panther starting lineup with the only change being the insertion of Ithiel Horton into the lineup since being reinstated.
One Last Go Around
The Panthers are 3-7 in their last 10 games and have been up and down the entire season. Defeating Florida State, N.C. State, and North Carolina for the team’s best winning streak of the 2021-22 campaign, the first and last being major upsets, Pitt learned more about itself on how to win. Losing at home to Georgia Tech was a major blow and created additional frustration with the season concluding.
Losses to Miami and Duke, two of the conference’s best opponents, despite being at home we’re not surprising but also non-competitive. The Panthers were outscored 171-120 in the two games. Defense and toughness is a viable way to win against middle-of-the-pack teams, and occasionally a massive upset against UNC, but is difficult to pull off against talented opponents who overmatch Pitt offensively.
Hugley is one of four Panthers averaging double digits. Hugley (14.8 points) also is the leading rebounder (8.1) despite being regularly double teamed on the low block when in position to score. Burton (12.8), Horton (10.5), and Femi Odukale (11.3) round out the top four and balance out the scoring. One major reason why is the lack of depth on the Panther bench and should be a focus, along with other areas of need, for Jeff Capel moving into next season.
March of the Irish
The Irish began March on the wrong foot, losing 74-70 at Florida State Wednesday. The loss snapped a two-game winning streak. 7-3 in its last 10, Notre Dame sits tied with North Carolina below Duke for second place in the ACC. Both 14-5, Notre Dame defeated UNC 78-73 earlier this year in their only matchup.
Mike Brey’s team relies on efficient shooting, especially behind the three-point arc. Notre Dame holds a 45.8% clip from the floor, tied for 83rd in the country, and makes over nine threes… The team’s 9.1 threes are backed up by an impressive 37.4% as a team, tied for 28th overall.
Taking care of the ball is a major factor in creating good shots and becoming one of the ACC’s best teams. Notre Dame is statistically best in the turnover department, giving the ball away 10.2 times per game compared to a 13.9 average for Pitt. Notre Dame’s security ranks tied for 18th in college basketball and will help them move into the ACC and NCAA Tournaments.
Three players average double figures led by 14.9 from Blake Wesley. Dane Goodwin averages 14.2 points and a team-high 33.8 minutes. Paul Atkinson is third on the team scoring 12.7 points and first in total rebounds at 7.3 per game.
Notre Dame is favored by 12.5 points at home in Saturday morning’s latest odds.
Pitt is 15-15 against the spread and is 4-3 ATS when being at least 12.5-point underdogs. The Panthers have hit the over total 13 times.
The over/under for the game is set at 132 points and Pitt is +550 on the money line.
Notre Dame is 16-14 against the spread during the 2021-22 season and 2-3 when favored by 12.5 or more points. The Fighting Irish are -800 on the money line.
Broadcast, Radio Info
The Pitt and Notre Dame regular-season finale will air on ESPNews Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. Jay Alter and Mike Lightfoot have the call from Purcell Pavilion.
The action can also be heard live on 93.7 The Fan.
The first round of the ACC Tournament begins Tuesday, March 8 from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.