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Takeaways From Pitt’s 81-73 Victory Against NC State

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This Pitt team believes it can beat anyone, at any time, on any floor. Their confidence has grown tremendously since the flip of the calendar. It’s a mentality they have to have, but might not be able to showcase on the grad stage for the second-consecutive season.

Pitt defeated NC State 81-73 at the Petersen Events Center Saturday night. The program honored Blake Hinson, Will Jeffress, and KJ Marshall for their contributions to the team on senior day.

A lead that grew as high as 17 was cut to three in the final moments, but the resilient Panthers held on for their third-straight win.

Here are three takeaways from Pitt’s final win of the regular season.

“Our paths crossed for a reason.”

Blake Hinson saved Jeff Capel and the Pitt basketball program. In turn, Jeff Capel and the Pitt basketball program saved Blake Hinson. The Pitt single-season record holder for three-pointers, Hinson saved his career with two incredible seasons at Pitt. A near 19 point-per-game scorer, Hinson combined for 48 points in his final two home games. He’s also become an important leader for a young team.

“Our paths crossed for a reason.” Capel powerfully endorsed Hinson and all he’s meant for the team. Hinson sat out two seasons at Iowa State before arriving in Oakland. He was a relatively unknown commodity. Pitt took a chance, and they won the lottery. Capel even mentioned earlier this season he knew Hinson was good, but never thought Pitt would be getting this. The leader Hinson has grown into has become equally important for Bub Carrington and Jaland Lowe to grow up in front of our eyes.

The bubble’s not big enough

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Panthers in the next four out category of his updated bracketology. Lunardi cited historically how the selection committee views non-conference scheduling as an important factor for candidacy. Pitt had the 344th ranked non-conference tilt. 

Pitt dropped one spot in the NET rankings and three in KenPom after the win. Maybe things aren’t in the cards for Pitt. Capel believes the Panthers’ numbers are better this season than last. Pitt trails behind Memphis and Wake Forest in Lunardi’s mind to even be considered in the first four out. Numerous other bracketologists like Mike DeCourcy believe the Panthers have a better shot than Lunardi.

Work to be done.

Pitt enters the ACC Tournament as the No. 4 seed in the conference. The Panthers earned a double bye for the first time since joining the ACC. The Panthers will play the winner of Wake Forest against Notre Dame or Georgia Tech. One could argue being the No. 5 seed would have been better for Pitt to win another game in the tournament and stack as many wins as possible for the committee to consider. 

Pitt finished the regular season 21-10 overall and 12-8 in the ACC. If the Panthers win one game in Washington, D.C., they have a decent shot of making it. If they upset North Carolina and go to the title game, they should be in. Winning the ACC obviously puts them in. It could be a long day of patiently waiting next Sunday.

Zoo in full force

The Oakland Zoo has made a significant impact on Pitt’s resurgence by energizing the Petersen Events Center and being loud at road venues. A group of 20+ students shouted from the upper deck at West Virginia earlier this year when Pitt dominated WVU. The support at Dayton in the First Four last season was a sight to see, with numerous players celebrating with the Zoo right away. Jeff Capel stopped to take a picture with Zoo leaders before leaving the floor Saturday. It embodies all that’s right with college basketball. A team leaving it all out there on the floor, and a student section believing they are too with their passion and energy. In an ever-changed college world, it’s good to see that stay the same.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Eric payne
Eric payne
2 months ago

VERY happy that your paths crossed.

Pittband
Pittband
2 months ago

Lunari has a bruised ego. He wants Pitt to go away. Tough.

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