This is a huge game for both teams for very different reasons. After climbing to #1 in the rankings, Louisville has lost 3 straight to Syrcause, Villanova, and Georgetown and has fallen to #12. Pitt, although riding a 4 game winning streak, has only been able to beat mediocre teams, with Georgetown and possibly Villanova (if you look at their recent success) as the only outliers. For Louisville, a win will get them back on track and in the discussion of the elite teams, while for Pitt, this is another chance to prove themselves.
I’m sure the Cardinals will come in with a lot of emotion, but whether that translates to success is another story. Their losing streak must have them feeling dejected, and I’m sure their recent struggles will weigh heavy in their mind if shots aren’t falling early. The Panthers, meanwhile, are as confident as ever, coming off a 93 point offensive explosion against Depaul.
I think this game comes down to the first 5 minutes of play. If Pitt plays tough defense and forces the Cards into some early struggles, I think the Panthers come out with a win. However, if Louisville is able to start fast with early shot-making, I believe they will be the winners.
As biased and nervous as I am about this game, I think Pitt comes out with a victory. Steven Adams has been a monster shot blocker lately, and he always makes his presence felt early in games. Because of their recent struggles,Louisville will start the game driving inside, as opposed to taking jump shots, and Adams will be there to block and alter shots and force the Cards into a slow start. I am very nervous that we “used up” all of our shot-making against Depaul, but I think this will be a low scoring, defensive game anyway – just the kind we need for a victory.
Pitt – 64 Louisville – 59