Pitt Panthers Basketball: Vastly Overrated

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Pittsburgh cheerleader

Notre Dame Coach Mike Brey said his team’s victory over#22  Pittsburgh last night on his home court was one of the most fun games he has coached since coming to South Bend.

Alex Dragicevich, yes someone you haven’t heard of (unless you’re a huge college basketball nerd) hit four 3-pointers and scored a career-high 22 points to lead the Fighting Irish to a 72-59 win over the Panthers in the Big East opener for both teams.

“I have been a part of a lot of fun games here,” Brey said. “But this one ranks right up there with the best. To see us play with that swagger in the second half, I guess I just wasn’t sure this group was ready for that.”

Yes, playing Pitt is becoming “fun.”

pitt panthers mascot

Jerian Grant (again another obscure fellow, Pitt is making heroes of all kind of no-name opponents this season) added 15 points and nine assists, and Eric Atkins also scored 15 points for the Irish (9-5, 1-0), who trailed 26-25 at intermission but missed only seven shots in the final 20 minutes of play.

The loss was Pitt’s second straight after a 59-54 loss to Wagner at home on Friday, while NotreDame extended its home winning streak to 28 games. Wagner? Really? They lost to a dead 19th century German composer most known for the Tannhauser overture. (Which I learned about through Bugs Bunny; “kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit,” for a longer clip from of one of the greatest cartoons ever)  Ok, I really know that’s “Vagh-ner” and not the 8-3, 5th place in the Northeast league Wagner Seahawks. But why was Pitt ranked after this loss?

Look at their schedule, their 11 wins include impressive victories over…uhm yeah. They only have two wins over high-majors: a 5 pt decision over a rebuilding program in Tennessee, and a 6 pt defeat of Oklahoma State. They also have a 10 pt loss to Long Beach St. on the ole tourney resume.

Tell me again why this team deserved to be ranked? They were #10 in the preseason, and #15 two weeks ago. I’m guessing they won’t get a whole lot of votes this week.

Back to last night.

Talib Zanna had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Panthers (11-3, 0-1), who shot 40 percent from the field (24 for 60). Nasir Robinson and Ashton Gibbs each added 12 points for Pitt. Dragicevich, Grant and Atkins each had just five points in the first half for Notre Dame, which was outrebounded 39-30 but made up for it with seven 3-pointers — compared to just one for Pitt on 14 attempts. 

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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