The Pittsburgh Panthers, led by head coach Jamie Dixon, return one of the deepest and most experienced team in the nation this season. Dixon is the only coach in the conference to win 20 games and 10 games in conference over the last seven years. Pitt has not had as much success though in the NCAA tournament. The farthest they have made it was an Elite Eight run in 2009.
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Many analysts are forecasting that Pitt is the team to beat in the Big East this year. They are the highest rated school in the preseason rankings at 5th in the country. This could finally be the year that Pittsburgh competes for a national title. That is a long time from now, but the Oakland Zoo is sure to be excited about their team to start the year.
Backcourt: Junior point guard Ashton Gibbs returns as one of the best players in the conference. He owns a unique ability to score when his team needs it, but he also makes his teammates better. He averaged 15.7 ppg last year and he isn’t afraid to take control of a game.
Travon Woodall will join him in the backcourt creating a 1-2 combo that can do it all. As a sophomore Woodall is going to log a lot of time and be asked to contribute as a solid complementary card to Gibbs. He has a lot of potential in helping this team reach the next level this year.
Frontcourt: My favorite player on Pitt is Brad Wanamaker. At 6’4 210 lbs he is a great player on the wing. Wanamaker is tough to guard because he has both the quickness and athleticism to score from the outside or in the paint. After Gibbs, Wanamaker has the experience and talent to carry the team.
The wide-open conference has Pittsburgh leading the way for now, but every team is going to be circling this game on the schedule. Dante Taylor and Gary McGee are two additional serviceable players that will look to produce in the paint. McGee is a big center who should play a key role in preventing teams from attacking the basket.
Prediction: The Pittsburgh Panthers have year in and year out been one of the best teams in the Big East. I don’t think Jamie Dixon has received enough credit since he took over. Year after year he recruits players who have toughness, strength, and the ability to play at a high level.
This team is no different and this year’s potential should rival that of the 2008-2009 teams. There is a lot of experts who like Pitt to win the Big East and I can see why. This team is the total package and will win at least 25 games. There is a solid chance this team is a top 3 seed in some region when the field of 68 is announced in March.
Check back this season for expert NCAA basketball picks from our best handicappers. They can put you on the right track to beating the NCAA basketball lines this season!
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