The Pittsburgh Panthers made something very clear when they jumped out early and destroyed Clemson at the Petersen Events Center Tuesday — they are still one of the best teams in the conference. The Panthers are a contender for the ACC title which means a high-seed in the NCAA tournament and a chance to advance very deep in March.
The Panthers took the loss at Syracuse very hard. Pitt coach Jamie Dixon and his players admitted they should have held on to win. Lamar Patterson missed two three-pointers late and Syracuse was able to come back and walk away victorious.
The Panthers could have folded and allowed Clemson to stay close or pull off an upset, but Dixon and his group went in the polar opposite direction by taking out their frustration on Clemson.
This should scare Maryland when the Terrapins host the Panthers Saturday. Maryland has played very inconsistently all season, and in ACC play there has been no way to know what kind of team Maryland is. Pittsburgh will show the Terps they are not ready for the big boys of the ACC.
Dez Wells was supposed to shine in his junior season for coach Mark Turgeon, but he has only averaged 14 points on 46 percent shooting. Those numbers will only get worse against the Panthers who held Clemson’s K.J. McDaniels to only 11 points. The Terps should also be scared on defense because Talib Zanna scored 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting on mostly layups and two-footers against Clemson. The Panthers’ offense was pumped to face something different than the Syracuse zone, and Maryland’s defense will have no shot of slowing Zanna down. Patterson should also be able to get his numbers up because there is not a player on Maryland’s roster poised to play against his style.
Pittsburgh very well could be undefeated in ACC play, and because they are not Maryland and the rest of league will feel the repercussions of the Panthers’ loss to Syracuse.
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