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Five Things to Know Before Pitt vs. Miami in ACC Regular-Season Finale



The regular season conference title comes down to this. No. 25 Pitt faces No. 16 Miami in Coral Gables with a chance to be crowned ACC regular-season champions in the final game before the conference tournament. 

Here are five things to know ahead of Pitt’s (21-9, 14-5 ACC) matchup against the Miami Hurricanes (23-6, 14-5 ACC). 

For the ACC Crown 2.0

Pitt had a chance to clinch a share of the ACC regular season Wednesday at Notre Dame. Being a part of Mike Brey’s last home game – the winningest coach in Notre Dame history – the Panthers fell 88-81 and did not look themselves in the loss. Nike Sibande, Nelly Cummings, and Jamarius Burton each scored 19 points while Blake Hinson compiled a 15-point, 13-rebound double-double. 

“There were some mental mistakes defensively,” head coach Jeff Capel said. “There was a lack of communication defensively. We didn’t defend well the whole game, and part of that had to do with us. Part of it was them; they were making shots today and had us chasing them. That was not good for us.”

Pitt, Miami, and No. 13 Virginia (22-6, 14-5) are all tied for first at 14-5 in conference play. Pitt defeated Virginia (68-65) on Jan. 3 and Miami (71-68) on Jan. 28. Both games were at the Petersen Events Center and decided by three points. Miami took down Virginia (66-64) at home on Dec. 20 as the Cavaliers host Louisville as 19-point favorites.

The ACC Tournament begins Tuesday, March 7 from Greensboro, North Carolina. The Panthers are looking to build up their tournament resume even further to clinch a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2015-16 campaign. 

Bouncing Back

Pitt has not won a regular-season conference championship since joining the ACC for the 2013-14 year. The Panthers’ last title was during the 2010-11 campaign while still in the Big East and finished 15-3 in conference play. Miami will celebrate senior day Saturday and attempt to win the ACC regular-season title for the second time in program history (2012-13).

“I look at that as an opportunity,” Capel said after the Notre Dame game. “We’re going to play an outstanding basketball team on their home floor, and certainly, we know what’s at stake. We’re excited about the opportunity that we have.”

When Pitt and Miami met at the Pete earlier this year, the Panthers stunned the No. 20 Hurricanes with an 11-0 run to close the night. Miami led 68-60 with 2:26 left before Pitt rallied back to pull off the upset. Pitt has a chance to bounce back from a frustrating Notre Dame loss with their goal of a regular-season championship still alive in South Florida.

Memory Lane

The Hurricanes are 8-2 in their last 10 games and have not played since last Saturday. Miami blew a 25-point second-half lead to Florida State and lost at the buzzer on a Matthew Cleveland shot near midcourt. Norchad Omier scored 11 points and added nine boards the first time Pitt and Miami met. He ranks third in the ACC averaging 9.9 rebounds per game and is second in the conference in field-goal percentage (59.4%).

Isaiah Wong scores 16.2 points per game and shoots 45% from the field in over 33 minutes of play. Miami averages the most points of any ACC team (79.7%) while shooting 48.6% from the field and 37% behind the arc.

It’s been a long time coming for Pitt to clinch a conference title on the road. On March 6, 1988, the Panthers defeated Syracuse, 85-84, thanks to a double-double from Jerome Lane. 

Spread, Over/Under

Miami is favored by 7.5 points in Saturday’s latest odds, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The line opened at -6 in favor of the Canes.

The Panthers are 20-9-1 ATS this year, according to Pitt is by far the ACC’s best team covering the spread but no longer the best overall in the county. The Panthers have failed to cover in three of their last four games, only doing so against the Syracuse Orange. The Hurricanes are 18-11 ATS and Pitt is 9-2 ATS on the road.

The over/under for the game is set at 154.5 points. Pitt is +250 on the moneyline while Miami sits at -300. The Panthers are 19-11 in opportunities to hit the over. 

Broadcast, Radio Info

The Pitt-Miami matchup will air on ACC Network beginning at 6 p.m. Jay Alter and Malcolm Huckaby the call from the Watsco Center. The game will also be broadcast live on sports radio 93.7 The Fan beginning with Cale Berger hosting Panther pregame and leading up to Bill Hillgrove and Curtis Aiken on the call.

The ACC Tournament from Greensboro, North Carolina begins Tuesday.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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