No. 16 Pitt Faces Duke for a Chance to Clinch a Share of the ACC Regular Season Title
No. 16 Pitt takes on Duke 12 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18 at Fitzgerald Field House where they will try to win and become co-champion of the ACC Regular Season for the first time since 2014.
The Panthers (9-4 overall, 3-1 ACC) started off ACC play with three straight victories. They easily beat the Virginia Cavaliers 25-6 on Jan. 20 and upset the then ranked No. 7 Virginia Tech Hokies, 26-12, on Jan. 27, both matches on the road. The Panthers then handed the North Carolina Tar Heels a 21-11 loss on Feb. 3 at the Petersen Events Center to move to the top position in the ACC.
Pitt faced off against then ranked No. 7 NC State last Friday, Feb. 10 in Raleigh, N.C. with hopes of essentially clinching the ACC regular season title outright. NC State bested them with some important sudden victories 23-9, taking that chance away from Pitt.
Still, the season has been a success for the Panthers and they should handle a weak, Blue Devils (3-11 overall, 0-4 ACC) squad on Saturday to clinch a share of the ACC title.
Duke has only won four individual matches in ACC Play so far this season, as they have lost 36 of their 40 of their total individual matches.
Blue Devils have only one wrestler that Intermat has in their rankings, No. 23 senior Jonah Niesenbaum in the heavyweight class. He is currently undefeated in three ACC matches so far and is 23-3 on the season.
He will match up against Panthers senior Jake Slinger (8-6), who will wrestle in just his second ACC match in 2023. First-year Dayton Pitzer wrestled at heavyweight the past three weekends for the Panthers, but head coach Keith Gavin chose to redshirt him, ending his season.
This match also serves as senior night for five Pitt wrestlers. Redshirt seniors in No. 10 Micky Phillippi (11-2) and No. 1 Nino Bonaccorsi (13-0), senior Dazjon Casto (5-7) and Slinger, along with redshirt junior Nicholas Meglino (6-4) will all walk on Saturday. Phillippi and Bonaccorsi have both been at Pitt starting in the 2017-18 seasons and will finish their sixth season with the program this year.
A win for Pitt will tie them with No. 5 NC State and No. 9 Virginia Tech at 4-1 in ACC play. Virginia Tech defeated NC State on Jan. 20 and both teams won all their other matches in ACC play.
Finishing 4-1 for Pitt will mark their second best finish in ACC play and only the second time they’ve won at least four matches. Their 5-0 record in 2014, which won them the ACC regular season title outright, serves as the only better record.
With their final duel match on Saturday at home, Pitt finishes their regular season and individual wrestlers focus on the schedule ahead.
Pitt will wrestle at the ACC Championships in Raleigh, N.C. on Sunday, March 5. Gavin and the team will try to win the first ever ACC Championship team title in program history.
Panthers that do good enough at the ACC Championships will wrestle at the NCAA Championships in Tulsa, Okla. from March 17-19. Gavin is the last Panther to win an individual National title at 174 pounds back in 2008.