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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
By Delaney Rauscher Adams, Staff Columnist • July 12, 2024
Opinion | Women pop stars and the pressure to evolve
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • July 10, 2024

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Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
Opinion | Believe victims even if you don’t like them
By Delaney Rauscher Adams, Staff Columnist • July 12, 2024
Opinion | Women pop stars and the pressure to evolve
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • July 10, 2024

Preview | Panthers host No. 11 Duke in inaugural Hoops4ALS game

Dukes+Dariq+Whitehead+%280%29+handles+the+ball+as+Pittsburghs+Nike+Sibande+%2822%29+defends+during+the+second+half+of+an+NCAA+college+basketball+game+in+Durham%2C+N.C.%2C+Wednesday%2C+Jan.+11%2C+2023.
AP Photo/Ben McKeown
Duke’s Dariq Whitehead (0) handles the ball as Pittsburgh’s Nike Sibande (22) defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023.

Pitt men’s basketball takes on ACC rival No. 11 Duke on Tuesday night in a game that is important for both teams for multiple reasons. The contest marks the inaugural Hoops4ALS game. The two programs partnered with Hoops4ALS to bring awareness and unite the college basketball community against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The game is also significant as it is a key ACC matchup with major NCAA tournament implications for the Panthers. 

Here is my preview of the matchup.

Consistency is key

In some games, such as their dominant road victory against arch-rival West Virginia, the Panthers have looked like an offense that can compete with any team in the country. But other times, such as losses to North Carolina and Missouri at home, the Panthers offense dries up and they look like an entirely different team. 

2023 was the year of the three-pointer for the Panthers, and that won’t change in 2024. The Panthers live by the three, and as we saw against the Tar Heels, they die by the three as well. 

Despite an elite performance on the defensive end against North Carolina on Jan. 2, the Panthers shot 17.2% from three and 30.9% from the field. Their field goal percentage, three-point percentage and point total of 57 were all season lows for the Panthers.

The Panthers followed this performance by defeating Louisville 83-70 and shooting 35.3% from three in the second half. 

Coming into Tuesday, the Panthers’ last two performances are night and day compared to each other and this is not a good sign when playing a top 11 team in the country. The Panthers rely heavily on senior forward Blake Hinson. Hinson is undeniably one of the best players in the ACC, but his recent drought has hurt the Panthers’ efficiency on offense. 

After starting the season shooting 47.8% from three-point land, Hinson has shot 19.4% over the Panthers’ last four games. The Panthers need to find some consistency on offense, and that starts with Hinson.

Ishmael Leggett’s injury is a concern for the Panthers

A big addition to the Panthers this season is junior guard Ishmael Leggett. Leggett is averaging 12.6 points and a team-high 6.2 rebounds per game. Leggett suffered a shoulder injury against Syracuse on Dec. 30. Leggett played through injury against North Carolina but was sidelined for the Louisville contest. 

Leggett’s status is up in the air according to Panthers head coach Jeff Capel. 

“Not sure [if Leggett will play],” Capel said during a press conference on Monday. “He’s going to try to practice today. He didn’t do anything yesterday; he’s going to try parts of practice today. We’ll see how that goes, we’ll see how he feels afterward. We’ll probably have a better idea sometime tomorrow.”

With Leggett’s injury, the Panthers have relied on first-year guard Jaland Lowe to step up. Despite the slow start to his career, Lowe has elevated his play in the Panthers’ last three games, averaging 9.3 points and three assists and shooting 45.4% from the field. 

While Lowe has stepped up, the Panthers need all hands on deck to compete with Duke, who boasts the No. 4 ranked defense in terms of points allowed per game in the ACC.

Duke, Filipowski are rolling

Despite starting 5-3, the Blue Devils have won six straight heading into Tuesday’s contest. Their leader is a familiar foe for the Panthers. Sophomore center Kyle Filipowski is averaging 16.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals and two blocks per game. The sophomore center has lived up to the expectations that landed him on the 2023 preseason all-ACC team.

Filipowski has a tendency to dominate the Panthers, averaging 25 points across two contests against the Panthers in 2022-23. The Panthers must plan around the sophomore center if they want to upset the Blue Devils. 

Pitt junior center Federiko Federiko has struggled as of late, leading to him losing his starting position and seeing his minutes drop drastically. Still, Federiko is the Panthers’ tallest player and best shot blocker. I expect Capel to either elevate Federiko back to the lineup or increase his minutes share to mitigate the 7-foot frame of Filipowski. 

If not, sophomore forward Guillermo Diaz Graham, who took Federiko’s position in the starting lineup, will have the duty of containing Filipowski. 

Opportunity for both teams to improve or hurt their tournament resumés

While both teams are in different positions, this game still has tournament implications for both teams. For the Panthers, a win over Duke at home is a Quad 1 victory. This is very important for the Panthers’ tournament resume, as they currently have zero Quad 1 or 2 victories. 

A loss would move the Panthers to 1-4 in the ACC, with a road game against the Blue Devils still ahead of them. While a loss to the Blue Devils isn’t considered a bad loss, it won’t help the Panthers, who are currently on the outside looking in of the NCAA tournament.

For the Blue Devils, a win would move their current win streak to seven games, move them to 3-1 in the ACC and add another Quad 1 win to their already stacked resume. 

The Panthers and Blue Devils tip off at 9 p.m. on Tuesday at the Petersen Events Center. Fans can watch on ESPN. 

About the Contributor
Jermaine Sykes, Assistant Sports Editor
Jermaine Sykes is the Assistant Sports Editor for The Pitt News. He is a part of the College of Business and Administration class of 2024 and is double majoring in Marketing and Human Resources Management. He is also pursuing a Sports Management certificate and an Economics minor. He has written over 90 articles as a member of the sports staff.