Pitt-Louisville game prediction
(Season record: 4-4)
The key to this game is Pitt’s ability to handle Louisville’s pressure. The Panthers did not handle it well at all in two losses against the Cardinals last season. In the 73-62 home loss, Pitt committed 18 turnovers. In the 57-54 road loss the Panthers committed 19 turnovers.
The Panthers have not played well against pressing teams in recent weeks. DePaul forced them into a season-high 18 turnovers and Providence forced 14. Tray Woodall and James Robinson have to play well and put their teammates in positions where they won’t be forced into mistakes.
There were other issues against the Cards last season such as the inability to defend Louisville’s marquee players. In the first meeting, Kyle Kuric scored 21 points and Chane Behanan 19. In the second meeting, Kuric scored 17 and Russ Smith 18. Kuric graduated, but Smith and Behanan will be keys to the game. Talib Zanna will have his hands full with Behanan, who is force in the paint.
Point guard Peyton Siva has not played very well in recent games, but he is the type of point guard that can cause problems for the Panthers, who have not shown a consistent ability to stop penetration. Siva has the ability to score, but his penetration can set up teammates for easy buckets.
This could mean the Panthers playing some zone if the man-to-man is not effective in stopping Siva. Going zone has been effective at times for Jamie Dixon, but his teams never rebound well out of zone, so he has never stuck with it for long periods.
Louisville has lost three in a row and coach Rick Pitino called the game a “must win” for his team. That was before Louisville announced Monday afternoon that Wayne Blackshear (shoulder) and guard Kevin Ware (suspension) would miss the game. Blackshear averages 9.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. Ware is less productive, averaging 3.8 points per game.
I’m still thinking Louisville musters a good effort on its home floor and reverses its recent trend of losing close games. I’ll take the Cards in a close one.
Louisville 68, Pitt 62
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