Pitt begins its fifth home game of the season Friday night hosting William & Mary. The Panthers defeated Fairleigh Dickinson 83-61 on Tuesday to start a two-game winning streak at the Petersen Events Center.
The team looks to continue their success at home, winning three of four games in Oakland. In the spirit of being thankful and appreciating what you have, the Panthers enter the night healthy and looking to avoid a Black Friday rush into an upset.
Here are five things to know ahead of Pitt’s (3-3) matchup against William & Mary (3-3).
No Leftovers on the Table
The Panthers continue to scuffle with turnovers and taking care of the ball. The team turned it over 14 times facing Fairleigh Dickenson. Pitt can’t continue to provide opponents with leftovers on the offense glass either. FDU out-rebounded Pitt 12-10 on the offensive end. Despite the 83-61 win where the Panthers dominated the second half, there are still areas to clean up for head coach Jeff Capel.
“We have to be stronger with the basketball, Capel said. “We have to make better decisions.” The Panthers remain one of the worst teams in the basketball landscape controlling the ball. Pitt is tied for 318th with 15.3 per game. William & Mary is one of the best, tied for 26th at under 10 a game (9.8).
Jamarius Burton returned from a one-game absence, missing the Alabama State contest, leading the Panthers in minutes (33), points (18), rebounds (7), and assists (4). The graduate-student guard is averaging 14.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, and shooting 55% through five games. Burton’s impact significantly contributed to the victory after dealing with a knee issue.
“It’s feeling pretty good,” Burton told reporters including PSN’s Dominic Campbell. “…My inflammation went down so I was able to move pretty good. When I got out there, I was locked in and just trying to give my team whatever I could.”
PSN’s George Michalowski spoke to Burton and guard Nike Sibande in the fourth episode of “Just Buckets with Jamarius Burton” available here.
Change of Scenery
Former Panther Noah Collier returns to The Pete following two seasons in the Blue and Gold. The junior forward transferred to W&M following the 2021-22 season. Collier did not see much playing time on Capel’s squads, averaging 1.5 points and 1.8 rebounds in 32 games including one start. As a freshman, Collier appeared in 12 games – starting one against Louisville in ACC play – averaging only 0.8 points and 1.3 rebounds per contest.
Increased playing time and a change of scenery have benefited Collier on the court. The 6-foot-8, 220-pounder is third in scoring (9.7 points) and first in rebounds (7.7). Collier averages the most minutes of any Tribe player, averaging 26.3, plus shooting 24-of-43 (55.8%) from the floor.
Collier stepped into a role that never materialized for him at Pitt. He has cleaned up the glass well and started all six games William & Mary has played. Struggles at the free-throw line – making 10-of-17 (58.8%) could hamper the big man seeking to prove something to his former squad if the game is close late. Collier’s success through the transfer portal paid dividends in the early going.
Six different players have led the Tribe in scoring through as many games. The team averages 75.7 points per game and outscores the opposition by 9.5 points defensively. William & Mary shoots a respectable 46% from the field, 101 schools ahead of the Panthers (42.9%). What makes the Tribe especially stand out is their ability to knock down the three-ball. W&M makes 8.2 per game – tied for 127th in basketball – but shoots at a 42.2% clip from behind the arc. The team is tied for 12th in college basketball in three-point percentage and owns a sizable advantage over the Panthers who are tied for 323rd at 28.1%.
The amla mater of Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin arrives in Pittsburgh riding a two-game winning streak. The Tribe defeated Army West Point (76-67) and Radford (62-51) both at home in Williamsburg, Virginia. William & Mary is 0-2 on the road this season, losing to Virginia Tech (94-77) and American (71-64).
Outside of Collier, guard/forward Gabe Dorsey provides the best scoring threat the Tribe brings to the table. Dorsey leads the team in points (11.3) and three-point field goals, making 19-of-37 (51.4%). Forward Ben Wight is also involved on both ends, posting averages of 10.7 points and 5.3 rebounds. Keep an eye on Miguel Ayesa if in the lineup for W&M. The senior has not appeared since playing seven minutes against Virginia Tech but drilled 7-of-9 threes against Mid-Atlantic Christian.
Pitt is favored by 13 points in Friday’s latest odds, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The line has shifted on various books between 14.5 and 13 points.
Pitt finished last year 15-17 against the spread. The Panthers are 2-3-1 ATS this year, according to Covers.com, and covered the 14-point line against Fairleigh Dickinson.
The over/under for the game is set at 135 points and Pitt is -1150 on the money line with William & Mary clocked in at +750. The Tribe are 3-2 ATS and 0-2 overall on the road.
Broadcast, Radio Info
The Pitt-William & Mary matchup will air on ACC Network Extra at 7 p.m. Kevin Wheeler and Julius Page have the call from The Pete as action resumes following Thanksgiving. The game can also be heard live on sports radio 93.7 The Fan.
Pitt’s next opponent will be Northwestern in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge Monday night on ESPN2. The contest from Evanston, Illinois will tipoff at 9 p.m.