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Five Things to Know Before Pitt vs. No. 20 Miami: 2003 Big East Champs, Sun Bowl Trophy



Pitt begins round two of a crucial three-game stretch Saturday afternoon hosting No. 20 Miami. Currently on the bubble and projected by ESPN’s Jon Lunardi as a No. 11 seed, the Panthers find themselves in must-win territory to keep hopes alive. Pitt and Miami are in a three-way tie for third place with North Carolina entering the final Saturday of January. 

Here are five things to know ahead of the Pitt Panthers’ (14-7, 7-3 ACC) matchup against the Miami Hurricanes (16-4, 7-3 ACC). 

20th Anniversary of 2003 Big East Champs

Pitt will honor members of the 2003 Big East Champions at the Petersen Events Center. In the first year of the new building, head coach Ben Howland and the Panthers finished a remarkable 16-0 at home and the Oakland Zoo creating a loud and hostile environment for opposing schools.  

Pitt won the Big East West crown, finishing 13-3 in conference play, and defeated Providence (67-57), Boston College (61-48), and UConn (74-56) to bulldoze through the conference tournament and win its first-ever Big East Tournament Crown. The Panthers entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed and advanced to the Sweet 16, falling to 2023 Hall of Famer Dwayne Wade and Marquette 77-74. Brandin Knight and company powered the Panthers to one of the program’s most successful and storied seasons.

PSN’s George Michalowski reports that former players and staff will be in attendance including: “Howland, assistant coach Barry Rohrssen, Lett, Zavackas, Julius Page, Chevon Troutman, Carl Krauser, Mark McCarroll, Levon Kendall, Yuri Demetris, Carlo Dorazio, and Gino Federico.”

Sun Bowl Trophy on Display

Fans will have an opportunity to pose with one of the newest trophies delivered back to Oakland. The Tony The Tiger Sun Bowl trophy will be on display at the Petersen Events Center from Pitt football’s 37-37 last-minute bowl game victory against UCLA in El Paso, Texas.

The trophy will be available to take pictures in the concourse by section 121. Pitt football will also be honored at halftime of the Pitt-Miami game. Quarterback Nick Patti shined in his second chance at bowl game heroics. Patti threw for 232 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 72 yards on 10 attempts. Kicker Ben Sauls was a perfect 5-for-5 knocking field goals through the uprights including a game-winning 47-yarder to clinch the victory.

Hurricane Report

The Miami Hurricanes have stormed through opponents all season. Lunardi currently projects Miami as a No. 5 seed and the No. 20 team overall in the tournament pool. 7-3 in their last 10, the Hurricanes’ only losses are to Georgia Tech (76-70), NC State (83-81), Duke (68-66), and out-of-conference to Maryland (88-70) on Nov. 20. Miami started 12-1 before the heat of conference play began.

Led by ACC field-goal percentage leader Norchad Omier (59.7%), Miami paces the ACC in team field-goal percentage (47.8%) and third in average scoring (78.2). Also, a solid free-throw shooting team at 76.2%, third-best in the conference, the Hurricanes stack up well against a Pitt team averaging 74.7 points per game. 

Pitt’s main advantage typically comes defensively and, on the glass, grabbing an average of 37.3 boards. Miami does hold its own on the offensive glass, totaling 11.1 compared to 10.2 for Pitt. 

The Hurricanes total two additional steals than the Panthers (7.60-5.38) and 14.9 assists. 

Spread, Over/Under

No. 20 Miami is favored by 1 point in Saturday’s latest odds, according to DraftKings Sportsbook

The Panthers are 14-6-1 ATS this year, according to Pitt is the ACC’s best team covering the spread but did not cover over the past two games against Florida State and Wake Forest. Miami is 12-8 ATS and the over has been reached in eight of 20 opportunities. 

The over/under for the game is set at 148 points. The Panthers and Hurricanes are both -110 on the money line. The over has hit in 13 of the Panthers’ 21 games. Pitt is 9-3 overall at home straight-up this season.

Broadcast, Radio Info

The Pitt-Miami matchup will air on ESPNU beginning at 4 p.m. Jay Alter and Malcolm Huckaby have the call from the Pete. The game will also be broadcast live on sports radio 93.7 The Fan. 

Pitt faces North Carolina Wednesday night at 7 p.m. from Chapel Hill to begin February.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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