The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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The Pitt logo in the outfield of Vartabedian Field.
Column | Pitt sports programs and their alcohol brand counterparts
By Brian Sherry, Sports Editor • 12:40 am
Beyond the brew, Pitt students share sober stories
By Nada Abdulaziz, Senior Staff Writer • February 20, 2024

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The Pitt logo in the outfield of Vartabedian Field.
Column | Pitt sports programs and their alcohol brand counterparts
By Brian Sherry, Sports Editor • 12:40 am
Beyond the brew, Pitt students share sober stories
By Nada Abdulaziz, Senior Staff Writer • February 20, 2024

Staff Picks | Pitt men’s basketball season predictions

Junior+center+Federiko+Federiko+%2833%29+stands+ready+to+defend+during+a+drill+at+an+open+practice+at+the+Petersen+Events+Center+on+Friday%2C+Oct.+13.
Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor
Junior center Federiko Federiko (33) stands ready to defend during a drill at an open practice at the Petersen Events Center on Friday, Oct. 13.

Following a breakout 2022-23 campaign, Pitt men’s basketball hopes to build on last season’s success. The Pitt News Sports Desk gives its picks for how the Panthers will fare this season.

Pitt puts up another solid year, winning 19-20 games // Brian Sherry, Sports Editor

Last year was special for Pitt men’s basketball. After seven long years of irrelevance, the Panthers stormed back onto the national scene in 2023, winning two games in the NCAA Tournament. 

But the Panthers lost many key players from last year’s team, including guards Nike Sibande and Nelly Cummings. Pitt’s frontcourt retained much of its talent from last season, as senior forward Blake Hinson is returning for his final year of eligibility. The Panthers also return sophomore forward Guillermo Diaz Graham and junior center Federiko Federiko, who were both key contributors to the Panthers’ NCAA Tournament run.

The Panthers’ frontcourt will likely carry the team to another solid record, but lingering questions at guard will hold the team back from making an NCAA Tournament run. Pitt will win around 20 games but will fail to make the NCAA Tournament. 

Panthers win 21 games, sit on the cusp of the NCAA tournament // Jermaine Sykes, Assistant Sports Editor

The loss of Nelly Cummings, Nike Sibande, Greg Elliott and 2022 first-team All-ACC guard Jamarius Burton left the Panthers’ backcourt depleted. First-year guards Jaland Lowe and Carlton Carrington, along with transfer redshirt junior Ishmael Leggett, have a major responsibility. 

Thankfully for the Panthers, they return Blake Hinson — arguably the best scorer in the ACC — along with block artist Federiko Federiko. Along with other additions to the roster, the Panthers should get to the new year with only two losses.

But a brutal schedule means a rocky new year for the Panthers and leaves them at 21-10 heading into the postseason. The Panthers will need to have a good showing in the ACC tournament if they want to return to the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season. 

Panthers win 19 games, ACC Tournament wins become vital to NCAA tournament chances // Matthew Scabilloni, Staff Writer

Pitt basketball has tons of new faces this season with transfers and incoming first-years. If the Panthers want to appear in two straight NCAA tournaments for the first time since 2013 and 2014, it goes through the new players. 

Along with the new faces, the Panthers have some key pieces returning. Senior forward Blake Hinson, who is a preseason second-team All-ACC selection, is coming back for a final year. Junior center Federiko Federiko — one of the best shot blockers in the ACC last season — will also round out the Panthers front court. Redshirt junior forward William Jeffress is also back. Jeffress missed last season due to injury but is a menace defensively. Finally, sophomore forwards Jorge and Guillermo Diaz Graham, who both have the chance to blossom into top-tier talent, will look to make an impact.

The Panthers will struggle early during their stretch of playing five straight Power Five schools from late November to early December. But like last year, the Panthers will improve during ACC play. Pitt will finish 19-12, but will need to do some damage in the ACC Tournament to get an NCAA Tournament bid.

First-years prove essential in the Panthers’ 20-win season and NCAA tournament berth // Alex Porter, Staff Writer

Although they lost plenty of talent, from the playmaking of guard Nelly Cummings to the floor presence of forward Jamarius Burton, the Panthers still have a strong foundation to build on.

After some struggles early in conference play, the Panthers will settle in and end the season just inside of the tournament bubble. First-year guards Carlton Carrington and Jaland Lowe’s development is essential to Pitt’s success.

Pitt faithful may struggle to trust a young backcourt after issues early in head coach Jeff Capel’s tenure. However, the Panthers have the necessary culture and leadership in place for them to thrive. From senior forward Blake Hinson to a strong frontcourt, anchored by junior center Federiko Federiko and sophomore forward Guillermo Diaz Graham, the Panthers have everything they need to support a less experienced roster.

Panthers win 25 games, disappoint in NCAA tournament // Eli Smith, Staff Writer

After a swift return to relevance in the 2022-2023 season, the Panthers will build off of last season, both emotionally and statistically. 

I predict Pittsburgh will win somewhere around 25 games and earn national attention along the way. Despite losing many key pieces, I feel the Panthers have players returning that are ready to face the challenge ahead and shine as they receive more playtime. But the “Cinderella story” won’t progress past the regular season. 

Once tournaments begin, the Panthers will shrivel. I predict that Pittsburgh will fail to win a single game in both the ACC and the NCAA tournaments. 

Panthers clinch back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths with 21-win season // Jack Markowski, Senior Staff Writer 

Pitt men’s basketball underwent quite a bit of roster turnover this offseason and saw several key members of last year’s team move on, but there are plenty of reasons for optimism moving forward. 

Senior forward Blake Hinson’s return to the program gives the Panthers one of the most dynamic scorers in all of college basketball and a leading candidate for ACC Player of the Year. The new-look backcourt, headlined by first-year Carlton Carrington and junior Rhode Island transfer Ishmael Leggett, will also provide plenty of fireworks and represent a strength of this season’s group. 

The Panthers’ frontcourt largely remains the same as it was a year ago, with junior center Federiko Federiko and the sophomore forward Diaz Graham twins at the helm, all of whom should take a step forward in their second year with the team while anchoring the defense. 

Pitt is staring down a tough out-of-conference schedule along with an improved ACC, but it has more than enough talent for a repeat trip to the NCAA tournament under Jeff Capel’s tutelage. 

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