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Five Things to Know Before Pitt vs. Louisville at the Petersen Events Center



The Panthers have won three in a row after sweeping the North Carolina Tar Heels Wednesday night 65-64 in Chapel Hill. Trailing by one, Jamarius Burton drove to the basket and was fouled by RJ Davis with three seconds left. The veteran guard cashed in on both free-throw attempts as the Panthers squeaked out a one-point win. Pitt returns home Tuesday facing Louisville. 

Here are five things to know ahead of the Pitt’s (16-7, 9-3 ACC) matchup against the Louisville Cardinals (3-30, 1-11 ACC). 

Race to the Top

Pitt has a chance to tie for first place in the ACC Tuesday with a win over Louisville thanks to receiving help over the weekend. The top conference opponent, No. 20 Clemson, lost at home 78-74 to Miami and dropped to 10-3 in ACC competition. No. 6 Virginia also lost and picked up its third loss, falling 74-68 at Virginia Tech. Both programs maintained their spot in the standings, but Virginia now has company. 

Despite not playing on Saturday, Pitt moved into a tie with the Cavaliers for second place in the ACC and already defeated Virginia on Jan. 3 by a 68-65 final score. The Panthers went a perfect 3-0 in some of the most critical games of the season, taking down Wake Forest and Miami at home before stunning UNC. Pitt has eight games remaining before the ACC Tournament and finds itself out of bubble talk and is currently in a good position to reach the NCAA Tournament.

Praise From Payne

The Panthers handled Louisville earlier in 2023 when the teams met for the first time. Pitt defeated the Cardinals 75-54 and won its first game in Louisville since the 2005-06 season. Greg Elliott scored a game-high 23 points and the most he’s scored in a Pitt uniform, shooting 9-of-12 from the floor. Burton totaled a double-double with more assists (11) than points (10) in the victory. Louisville head coach Kenny Payne praised the Panthers for their playing style and communication.

“I love the way that Pitt plays,” Payne said. “I love the swag that they play with, I love the confidence they play with, the chatter, the toughness that they play with. They talk to each other. They fight together. If one guy is down, you can hear two or three other guys trying to lift him up. They’re well-coached. Jeff is a hell of a coach, a great person.”

Nike Sibande stole the show early, draining four consecutive threes to spark the Pitt offense and draw Payne’s attention. Pitt owns a 3-1 conference record since defeating the Cardinals by 21 points last month.

Cardinal Red

Jeff Capel is all too familiar with struggles to begin a new head coaching job. Capel capped his first season at Pitt during the 2018-19 campaign by finishing 3-15 in ACC play. The Panthers have already tripled their win total this season and have plenty of room for more. In his first-year guiding Louisville, Payne is tied for the least amount of conference wins this season (1-11) and experienced an 0-10 start to ACC competition. The program earned its first conference victory on Feb. 1 hosting Georgia Tech, 68-58. 

Louisville is at the bottom of the conference in scoring (63.4) while second to last in field-goal percentage (41.6%) and free-throw percentage (71.8%). The Panthers own the edge in rebounding as well, averaging four and a half more rebounds (37.2-32.7) and double digits (10.2) on the offensive glass to place 4th in the ACC. 

El Ellis scored a team-high 19 points against Pitt and JJ Traynor added 14 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench. Jae’Lyn Withers pushed Georgia Tech around and earned his first double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds. He shot 7-of-9 from the free-throw line and 4-of-6 from three-point land. 

Spread, Over/Under

Pitt is favored by 15.5 points in Tuesday’s latest odds, according to DraftKings Sportsbook

The Panthers are 16-6-1 ATS this year, according to Pitt is the ACC’s best team covering the spread and covered against Miami and North Carolina. Louisville is 7-15-1 ATS and the over has been reached in eight of 21 opportunities. 

The over/under for the game is set at 139 points. Pitt is -1450 on the money line while Louisville sits at +800. The Panthers are 13-10 in opportunities to hit the over. Pitt is 10-3 overall at home this season.

Broadcast, Radio Info

The Pitt-Louisville matchup will air on the ACC Network beginning at 7 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 as Pitt looks for double-digit ACC wins.

Pitt returns to the road facing Florida State at noon Saturday from Tallahassee.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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