Louisville Cardinals (2-16, 0-7) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (12-6, 5-2)
Game Time: 7 p.m.
Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.
Television: ACC Network
Announcers: Wes Durham (play-by-play) and Dan Bonner (analyst)
Favorite: Pittsburgh by 9.5
Series: Louisville leads, 21-7
Last Meeting: Pitt won 65-53 on Jan. 15, 2022 in Pittsburgh
Probable Starting Lineups:
- G El Ellis (6-3, 180, Sr.)
- G/F Mike James (6-5, 215, R-Fr.)
- F Jae’Lyn Withers (6-9, 220, R-Jr.)
- F J.J. Traynor (6-8, 190, Jr.)
- F Sydney Curry (6-8, 270, Sr.)
- G Nelly Cummings (6-0, 185, Gr.)
- G Greg Elliott (6-3, 180, Gr.)
- G Jamarius Burton (6-4, 200, Gr.)
- F Blake Hinson (6-7, 235, Jr.)
- C Federiko Federiko (6-11, 220, So.)
One of the more pleasant surprises in the ACC so far, Pitt has bounced back from a 1-3 start to win five of its first seven games in ACC play. Included in those five victories are triumphs over North Carolina, the preseason favorite to win the conference, and Virginia, currently the highest-ranked team from the league.
After dropping back-to-back games to Clemson and Duke, the Panthers enter Wednesday night’s contest coming off of a 71-60 bounce-back victory over Georgia Tech. Pitt’s ACC strength of schedule leads the conference through the first seven games of league play, as the Panthers’ seven conference opponents are currently a combined 30-19 in conference play.
The strength of this Pitt team is its backcourt, which is deep, talented and experienced. Its key quartet of Jamarius Burton, Nelly Cummings, Greg Elliott, and Nike Sibande has combined for 5,092 points in 13,273 minutes over 522 career games. Per ESPN Stats & Info, Pitt is one of four programs (along with UAB, Chattanooga, and Texas) in the NCAA with four or more players with 125+ games played.
Burton has been the team’s standout performer so far this season, averaging 16.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. Burton isn’t flashy, but he’s a strong, hard-nosed guard who has drawn comparisons to former Panther standout Bradley Wanamaker. He’s also a tenacious defender who loves to spot and take away what an opposing player likes to do the most. Burton is averaging 20.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game in conference play, and is shooting 53.5 percent (53-of-99) from the field and 88.6 percent (31-of-35) from the foul line.
Cummings (10.8 ppg) and Elliott (10.2 ppg) are also double figure scorers, while Sibande is coming off of a season-high 21-point performance in the win over Georgia Tech. I don’t think I need to explain Louisville’s lack of depth at guard to anyone reading this, so facing a team with four guards who all have the ability to go off on any given night is clearly less than ideal.
Junior forward Blake Hinson, who played his first two seasons at Ole Miss, has been the team’s most reliable outside threat. He’s averaging 16.2 ppg and has hit at least one three-pointer in 17 of Pitt’s 18 games so far this season. Hinson is one of two players in the Atlantic Coast Conference averaging 16.0 or more points per game (16.2 ppg.) and 6.5 or more rebounds per game (6.6 rpg.).
The Panthers are the only team in the ACC with three players who have made 30 or more threes on the season. Louisville’s up to this point lackluster perimeter defense will once again be under a microscope Wednesday night.
Big man John Hugley IV, likely Pitt’s best overall player, is officially out for the season. This means the middle is going to be manned by some combination of 6’11 sophomore Federiko Federiko from Finland, and Guillermo and Jorge Diaz Graham, a pair of 7-foot twins from Spain. All have the potential to morph into really productive college big men, but all are pretty raw for the time being.
—Louisville has won 17 of its last 19 games against Pitt.
—The Cardinals are 12-1 in home games against the Panthers.
—Pitt is one win shy of matching its conference victory total from each of the past three seasons. The Panthers are 3-1 in ACC road games so far this season.
—Pitt is 9-1 on the season when winning the rebounding battle. The Panthers rank fourth in the ACC in rebound margin (+3.33) but have a -6.2 rebound margin in their six losses.
—Louisville is 0-7 in conference play for the first time since going 0-11 in the KIAC during the 1939-40 season.
—Louisville began the season 0-9, the largest losing streak to begin a season in the history of the ACC.
—Pitt ranks third in the ACC in three-point percentage defense (.308), while Louisville ranks 13th in the conference in that category.
—Pitt is the only team in the ACC with three players with 30 or more threes on the season. Blake Hinson (38), Greg Elliott (35), and Nelly Cummings (30) have combined for 103 three-point field goals.
—Louisville is 5-31 over its last 36 games dating back to last season.
—Pitt used the transfer portal to add three players to the 2022-23 roster who have all been instrumental to the team’s success. Nelly Cummings (Bowling Green/Colgate), Greg Elliott (Marquette) and Blake Hinson (Ole Miss/ Iowa State) have now combined for 2,971 points, 953 rebounds and 553 assists over 337 career games.
—Louisville is 218-13 over the last 20 seasons and 15-1 over the last three when scoring 80 points or more. The Cards have eclipsed the 80-point mark just once this season.
—Louisville is 14-0 over the past 10 seasons when limiting opponents to no more than one three-point field goal.
—Since 2004, Louisville is 128-0 when leading by more than 10 points at halftime.
—Louisville has won 162 consecutive games when holding an opponent under 50 points.
—Louisville has won 157 consecutive games when scoring at least 85 points in regulation.
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Pittsburgh 77, Louisville 65