#28 Pitt Panthers: College Basketball 111 in 111


Pittsburgh cheerleader

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series.  Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.

We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 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.

After suffering through a rare season filled with struggles, the Pitt Panthers will look to end their tenure as members of the Big East Conference with a bang.  A few key newcomers should make it easier for Jamie Dixon to return to the winning ways this program has become accustomed to seeing.

Last Season: T-13th, 5-13 in Big East, 22-17 overall
Predicted Big East Finish: 6th

Projected Depth Chart
C: Steven Adams (Fr)/Malcolm Gilbert (So)
PF: Talib Zanna (Jr)/Dante Taylor (Sr)
SF: Lamar Patterson (Jr)/J.J. Moore (Jr)/Durand Johnson (Fr)/Chris Jones (Fr)
SG: James Robinson (Fr)/Trey Zeigler (Jr)/Cameron Wright (So)
PG: Travon Woodall (Sr)/John Johnson (So)

Gone: G-Ashton Gibbs, F-Nasir Robinson, C-Khem Birch (transfer-UNLV), PG-Isaiah Epps (transfer-Monroe CC)

2012-2013 Outlook:
Pitt didn’t have a great low post scoring option last season but that should change this year with the arrival of seven-foot freshman Steven Adams.  Like many young big men, the New Zealand native is still developing his all-around game but is fairly polished in the paint and also possesses a solid mid-range jumper.  He will be joined in the starting frontcourt by athletic power forward Talib Zanna.

Physical Dante Taylor will provide some muscle off the bench.  The former McDonald’s All-American has been extremely underwhelming during his collegiate career but will look to end things on a high note.  6-11 sophomore Malcolm Gilbert hopes to provide more size off the bench.

Dixon has the versatility of playing a smaller line-up using one of his small forwards at the four if needed.  Starter Lamar Patterson returns and can really fill it up from deep.  The athletic, aggressive J.J. Moore will once again be a key reserve and hopes to build momentum off an encouraging end to last season in which he became more and more confident as a scorer.  Redshirt freshman Durand Johnson and newcomer Chris Jones will likely be buried on the bench.

The Panthers will rely heavily on senior point guard Tray Woodall to bring leadership to the floor.  He battled back from injury to finish last season strong and is a capable scorer or distributor.  Woodall won’t have the crutch of playing alongside Ashton Gibbs anymore so it will crucial for him to truly become the lead guard.

It appears as if freshman James Robinson has won the starting spot alongside Woodall in the backcourt.  He started both of Pitt’s exhibition games which I’m a tad bit surprised by since I thought Central Michigan transfer Trey Zeigler would assume that role.  Zeigler received a bit of a controversial waiver and was cleared to play right away by the NCAA since his father was fired as the head coach at Central Michigan this off-season.  Robinson is capable of running the point as is sophomore John Johnson who will also see time off the bench while Cameron Wright figures to once again be the odd man out of the rotation.

The additions of Adams, Robinson, and Zeigler gives Pitt a shot in the arm that should allow the program to bounce back from their first losing season in conference play during the nine years of Dixon’s reign.  With the Big East being fairly open after Louisville and Syracuse, Pitt is one of a handful of teams that should contend to the best of that next tier.

Player to Watch: Steven Adams
Besides being fairly skilled for a young big, Adams also has good mobility and isn’t afraid to play hard every possession.  He is a potential NBA Draft Lottery pick and could very well be a one-and-done if he shows enough of his upside during his freshman campaign.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/13 vs. Lehigh (NIT Season Tip-Off)
11/21 vs. Michigan (NIT Season Tip-Off)
11/23 vs. Virginia/Kansas State/North Texas (NIT Season Tip-Off)
12/1 vs. Detroit

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#29 New Mexico Lobos
#30 St. Mary’s Gaels
#31 Georgetown Hoyas
#32 North Texas Mean Green
#33 Ohio Bobcats
#34 Texas Longhorns
#35 Miami Hurricanes
#36 Purdue Boilermakers
#37 Alabama Crimson Tide
#38 St. Joseph’s Hawks
#39 Murray State Racers
#40 VCU Rams
#41 Davidson Wildcats
#42 Stanford Cardinal
#43 UMass Minutemen
#44 St. John’s Red Storm
#45 Butler Bulldogs
#46 Florida State Seminoles
#47 Drexel Dragons
#48 St. Louis Billikens
#49 West Virginia Mountaineers
#50 BYU Cougars
#51 Temple Owls
#52 Washington Huskies
#53 California Golden Bears
#54 Kansas State Wildcats
#55 Nevada Wolfpack
#56 Colorado Buffaloes
#57 Iowa State Cyclones
#58 Northern Iowa Panthers
#59 Colorado State Rams
#60 Iowa Hawkeyes
#61 South Florida Bulls
#62 Valparaiso Crusaders
#63 Illinois Fighting Illini
#64 Arkansas Razorbacks
#65 Wichita State Shockers
#66 George Mason Patriots
#67 Virginia Cavaliers
#68 Villanova Wildcats
#69 Maryland Terrapins
#70 Marshall Thundering Herd
#71 Iona Gaels
#72 Northwestern Wildcats
#73 Oklahoms State Cowboys
#74 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#75 USC Trojans
#76 UConn Huskies
#77 Harvard Crimson
#78 Xavier Musketeers
#79 Ole Miss Rebels
#80 Clemson Tigers
#81 Oregon State Beavers
#82 Texas A&M Aggies
#83 Providence Friars
#84 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#85 Oklahoma Sooners
#86 Lehigh Mountain Hawks
#87 Washington State Cougars
#88 Long Beach State 49ers
#89 Belmont Bruins
#90 Vanderbilt Commodores
#91 Dayton Flyers
#92 Houston Cougars
#93 UCF Knights
#94 Old Dominion Monarchs
#95 Oregon Ducks
#96 LSU Tigers
#97 South Carolina Gamecocks
#98 Seton Hall Pirates
#99 Georgia Bulldogs
#100 DePaul Blue Demons
#101 Boston College Eagles
#102 Penn State Nittany Lions
#103 Arizona State Sun Devils
#104 Virginia Tech Hokies
#105 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#108 TCU Horned Frogs
#109 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#110 Utah Utes
#111 Nebraska Cornhuskers

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.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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