#42 Pitt Panthers: College Basketball 111 in 111

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season.  We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

Depth, toughness, and balance.  Those have been the keys for the Pitt Panthers in recent years and will once again be the driving force behind Jamie Dixon’s team as they make the move to the ACC.

Last Season: 4th, 12-6 in Big East, 24-9 overall
Predicted ACC Finish: 6th

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Joseph Uchebo (So)/Derrick Randall (Jr)
PF: Talib Zanna (Sr)/Mike Young (Fr)/Jamel Artis (Fr)
SF: Lamar Patterson (Sr)/Durand Johnson (So)
SG: Cameron Wright (Jr)/Chris Jones (Fr)
PG: James Robinson (So)/Josh Newkirk (Fr)

Gone: PG-Travon Woodall, C-Steven Adams, F/C-Dante Taylor, SG-Trey Zeigler (transfer-TCU), SF-J.J. Moore (transfer-Rutgers), PG-John Johnson (transfer-Penn State), C-Malcolm Gilbert (transfer-Fairfield)

2013-2014 Outlook:
There is a decent amount of turnover for Pitt this year as they lose five of their ten rotation players from last season.  With Tray Woodall graduating, James Robinson becomes the primary ball-handler.  Dixon needs him to fully take the reins of the offense which is a responsibility he is more than ready to handle.  Freshman Josh Newkirk is a talented playmaker who should see minutes off the bench.

On the wing, Lamar Patterson is the team’s top returning scorer and is the prototypical Dixon player in that he is strong, physical, and can also stretch defenses with his outside shooting.  Cameron Wright and Durand Johnson were valuable reserves a year ago and should step into larger roles while redshirt freshman Chris Jones figures to factor into the rotation.

Talib Zanna is the lone returning player in the frontcourt.  He has been a solid player during his time with the Panthers and has made strides with his offensive game.  JUCO transfer Joseph Uchebo will replace Steven Adams inside as Pitt’s space eater in the paint.  He missed most of last season due to a micro fracture in his knee but will be relied upon as a rebounder and shot blocker.  Derrick Randall becomes immediately eligible after transferring in from Rutgers and should be the first post player off the bench with Michael Young and Jamel Artis competing for playing time as well.

The Pitt Panthers will bring a new level of ruggedness to the ACC.  It will once again be a group effort offensively since the team doesn’t really have a go-to scorer.  Minus the hiccup that was the 2011-12 season, Dixon has led Pitt to the NCAA Tournament every season since he became head coach and that should continue this season.

Player to Watch: James Robinson
At 6-3, 200 pounds, Robinson is a big, physical guard who shows maturity beyond his years as he had the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the Big East.  His leadership and decision-making will be vital to Pitt’s success this season in their new home.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/12 vs. Fresno State
11/25 vs. Texas Tech (Legends Classic in Brooklyn)
11/26 vs. Stanford/Houston (Legends Classic in Brooklyn)
11/30 vs. Duquesne
12/3 vs. Penn State
12/17 vs. Cincinnati (at Madison Square Garden)

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#43 California
#44 Iowa State
#45 Providence
#46 Cincinnati
#47 UNLV
#48 Purdue
#49 LSU
#50 Illinois
#51 Xavier
#52 Boston College
#53 Ole Miss
#54 Missouri
#55 Washington
#56 Saint Mary’s
#57 Maryland
#58 Butler
#59 Minnesota
#60 Florida Gulf Coast
#61 Akron
#62 Temple
#63 Alabama
#64 Florida State
#65 Arkansas
#66 N.C. State
#67 Kansas State
#68 Davidson
#69 Dayton
#70 Miami FL
#71 SMU
#72 Texas A&M
#73 Long Beach State
#74 UMass
#75 Northwestern
#76 Indiana State
#77 Georgia Tech
#78 Oklahoma
#79 Richmond
#80 Manhattan
#81 Belmont
#82 Texas
#83 Houston
#84 Washington State
#85 Iona
#86 Oregon State
#87 Louisiana Tech
#88 Towson
#89 Wake Forest
#90 Central Florida
#91 Rutgers
#92 Drexel
#93 USC
#94 Charleston
#95 Seton Hall
#96 Vanderbilt
#97 George Mason
#98 Clemson
#99 Penn State
#100 Nebraska
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#104 DePaul
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#107 TCU
#108 Virginia Tech
#109 Georgia
#110 Utah
#111 Auburn

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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