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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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Former President and convicted felon Donald Trump menaces at the camera during his hearing.
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

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Former President and convicted felon Donald Trump menaces at the camera during his hearing.
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

Pitt men’s basketball looks to punch ticket to NCAA Tournament against UNC

Pitt+men%E2%80%99s+basketball+looks+to+punch+ticket+to+NCAA+Tournament+against+UNC
Kelechi Anucha | Staff Photographer

Pitt men’s basketball’s win over Wake Forest on Thursday kept its hopes of an NCAA Tournament bid alive. But the Panthers need to beat projected No. 1 seed North Carolina on Friday night to earn a bid to March Madness.

Regular season matchup

On Jan. 2, the Tar Heels beat the Panthers 70-57. Pitt kept it close in the first half, only trailing by three points at the break. But in the second half, the Tar Heels broke the game open. 

Graduate student center Armando Bacot scored 10 second half points for North Carolina, and the Tar Heels held the star of the Panthers’ ACC Tournament quarterfinal game, junior guard Ishmael Leggett, scoreless in the second half. 

Leggett wasn’t to blame for the Panthers’ struggles against the Tar Heels. Pitt had its second-worst field goal percentage of the season, shooting 30.9% from the field. The Panthers were even worse from beyond the arc, making only 17.2% of their looks from deep, which was also the second-worst mark of the season.

Pitt needs production from beyond the arc

It’s not easy to beat the No. 4 team in the country, but there is a path for the Panthers. 

The Panthers must shoot better than 17.2% from deep. Better yet, Pitt needs to shoot like it has in their previous six wins, all over 40% from beyond the arc. The Panthers are 13-1 when making 40% or more of their three-point shots.

Pitt also needs to get more efficiency from senior forward Blake Hinson. The Deltona, Florida native was a large contributor to the Panthers’ poor three-point shooting, as he shot 2-11 from deep. 

Hinson, along with the entire team, is on an entirely different level now. In Pitt’s current four-game winning streak, Hinson is averaging 21.75 points per game and shooting the deep ball at a 55.6% clip. 

The senior’s three-point contribution is vital for the Panthers, win or lose. In the Panthers’ previous 12 games, Pitt is 10-0 when Hinson makes two or more tripples and 0-2 when he doesn’t.

Pitt is going to need production from deep and especially from Hinson if they want to find themselves in a comfortable position come Selection Sunday.

Tournament implications

If the Panthers beat North Carolina on Friday night, they should have an all-but-guaranteed bid to the NCAA Tournament.

With a win the Panthers would have defeated the ACC regular season champion, North Carolina, Duke in Cameron Indoor, Virginia in Charlottesville and two key wins over fellow bubble team, Wake Forest.

Their lackluster play during the non-conference schedule in November and December should no longer stay as the reason the Panthers miss out on the NCAA Tournament.

The Panthers will have a worrisome Sunday with a loss to the Tar Heels. They still will have impressive wins over Duke, Virginia and Wake Forest, but the non-conference schedule will come back to bite the Panthers. 

Simply put, it’s a win and in.

Pitt fans can watch the Panthers attempt to earn their bid to March Madness on Friday on ESPN at 7:00 p.m.

About the Contributor
Matthew Scabilloni, Senior Staff Writer