The No. 20 Pittsburgh Panthers were disappointed to lose to the undefeated No. 2 Syracuse Orange and remain in second place in the ACC, but bounced back with a good win over a surprising 13-5 Clemson Tigers squad.
Clemson never really stood a chance against a far superior Pittsburgh side. Lamar Patterson, Cameron Wright and Josh Newkirk all had double-digit scoring games for the Panthers, as did the Tigers’ own K.J. McDaniels. However, the biggest factor for either team was the play of Pittsburgh’s Talib Zanna who was 9-of-10 from the field and scored 22 points en route to a 76-43 blowout victory.
Clemson will be disappointed to lose, because a win over a top team like Pittsburgh would have looked extremely good on the 2014 NCAA Tournament resume. The Tigers had a fantastic win over the No. 18 Duke Blue Devils, but will most likely miss out on the 2014 NCAA Tournament due to poor losses to teams like the Auburn Tigers and mid-range teams like the Arkansas Razorbacks and Florida State Seminoles. Clemson must start winning now, or they may find themselves struggling to make it to the NIT.
Pittsburgh now moves to 17-2 on the season and holds a 5-1 ACC record. Barring a major collapse, they are in the NCAA Tournament and should begin focusing on improving. The win over Clemson was a good sign moving forward for the Panthers, who play away at Maryland before a crucial home matchup with Duke.
The ACC may not be the powerhouse conference that they were predicted to be before the season began, but Pittsburgh has proven that it’s of a different class than the mid-range conference teams like Clemson. Expect big things from the Panthers moving forward and possibly an upset when Syracuse comes to play on the Panthers’ home court.