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Five Things to Know Before Pitt vs. Notre Dame With a Chance to Clinch Share of ACC Regular Season



Pitt basketball forward Blake Hinson

Pitt begins its final road trip of the ACC regular season schedule Wednesday night at Notre Dame before facing Miami on Saturday. The Panthers are in sole possession of first place with the Hurricanes and Virginia Cavaliers on their heels. 

Here are five things to know ahead of the Pitt’s (21-8, 14-4 ACC) matchup against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-19, 2-16 ACC). 

For the ACC Crown

Losses by Virginia and Miami Saturday placed the Panthers atop the ACC standings over the weekend and now control their own destiny. Pitt has never won an ACC regular season title since joining the conference for the 2013-14 season. The Panthers last won a conference crown during the 2010-11 campaign in the Big East.

A win over Notre Dame would clinch a share of the ACC title. If the Panthers win, a victory in Miami secures Pitt an outright conference championship. The ACC Tournament begins Tuesday, March 7 from Greensboro, North Carolina. Pitt currently sits as the No. 1 seed and would not play until Thursday. The NCAA Tournament is also in sight and the Panthers could be on their way to dancing for the first time since the 2015-16 campaign. 

2,591 Days Later

The Pitt Panthers are ranked. Pitt received 140 votes to slot No. 25 in the AP Poll Top 25 released Monday. The selection marks the first time in 2.591 days Pitt cracked the rankings in 2016, the last time the Panthers clinched a spot in March Madness. Pitt slotted as high as No. 20 that year under head coach Jamie Dixon.

Virginia (No. 13, 718 votes) and Miami (No. 16, 688 votes) placed higher than Pitt while Duke (78), NC State (6), and Clemson (5) also received votes. 

Nike Sibande started on senior day Saturday in place of junior Blake Hinson. Hinson took a step back to acknowledge the significance of Sibande on the program and all he has worked for in his reasoning for coming off the bench. The connections and love for each other in the Panthers locker room is one reason why the team has jelled and clicked throughout the year. 

“What Nike does and has been doing for this program is one of the most unselfish things I have ever experienced firsthand,” Hinson said postgame. “Truth of the matter is, he would start on most teams in the country in my opinion. He’s willing to accept the role of not doing that for our team for the betterment of this team, and that just embodies what this team is about and what he’s about. He totally deserves it man, that’s just what it is.”

Mike Brey Farewell

After 23 seasons, Mike Brey is saying goodbye to Notre Dame. Wednesday marks Brey’s final home game in South Bend and a chance to positively reflect on his time with the Irish “win, lose, or draw.”

“I’m excited about it. The people coming back, I think we have 30 of our former players coming back.” Brey said Monday. “I’m trying not to concentrate on how good Pittsburgh is and that they could be the regular season champion. They have the ACC Coach of the Year in Jeff, in my opinion. They are really good.”

Notre Dame is tied with Louisville for wins in ACC play (2) and struggled throughout conference play after winning two games in the NCAA Tournament last season. Brey ranks sixth among DI coaches in wins at their current school (472) and is the winningest head coach in Notre Dame history following being appointed head coach prior to the 2000-01 season.  Brey and Jeff Capel have a special relationship molded throughout the years and is for Capel’s success in turning around the Pitt basketball program.

“Jeff is like a son to me,” Brey said. “I coached him and watched him grow. I know his father is darn proud of him, looking down. He deserves it.

“I’m so proud of Jeff Capel. He had to have a big year and he has. He’s the ACC Coach of the Year. I think it’s brilliant how he’s reinvented his team. We have one heck of a challenge on Wednesday night.” 

Spread, Over/Under

Pitt is favored by 3.5 points in Wednesday’s latest odds, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.

The Panthers are 20-8-1 ATS this year, according to Pitt is by far the ACC’s best team covering the spread and the best overall in the county. The Panthers covered against Syracuse after failing to when facing Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. The Fighting Irish are 9-20 ATS.

The over/under for the game is set at 143 points. Pitt is -175 on the moneyline while Notre Dame sits at +150. The Panthers are 18-11 in opportunities to hit the over. 

Broadcast, Radio Info

The Pitt-Syracuse matchup will air on ESPNU beginning at 7 p.m. Anish Shroff and Jordan Cornette have the call from Purcell Pavilion. The game will also be broadcast live on sports radio 93.7 The Fan.

Pitt faces Miami Saturday to close the ACC regular season beginning at 6 p.m.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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