Pittsburgh Will be a Dark Horse Contender Come Tourney Time

By Greg Douglas

The Pittsburgh Panthers have gone 6-1 in conference play to open the season in an expanded ACC conference, but can the Panthers continue the team’s success down the stretch against some of the best teams in the country? Pittsburgh extended the team’s overall record to 18-2 when the Panthers defeated the Maryland Terrapins in College Park, and it was the veteran guard Lamar Patterson who led the team to victory. Pittsburgh continues to be efficient offensively, as the team ranks 19th in the country in field goal percentage and seventh in assists.

The 83-79 victory at Maryland was not exactly a notable win, but the win keeps the Panthers in second place in the ACC and boosts the team’s confidence going into the toughest stretch of the season. Patterson continued his solid campaign recording 28 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in the win. The other senior for the Panthers, Talib Zanna, contributed 16 points and seven rebounds to the cause. The Panthers possess a solid core of veteran players with several capable underclassmen serving as role players.

While Pittsburgh has dominated early in the season, the following weeks will tell if the team is truly a championship contender. Pittsburgh faces several ACC adversaries and a rematch against Syracuse, who already defeated the Panthers once this year by a score of 59-54 at the Carrier Dome. In a year that the NCAA tournament field looks wide open, Pittsburgh has the qualities of a championship contender, but will the Panthers continue to surge as the season rolls on?

Pittsburgh’s offensive efficiency and senior leadership gives the team an advantage in the tournament and will serve the team well in the big dance. If Pittsburgh’s underclassmen perform well under pressure, this is a team that could make some serious noise in the tournament.

Greg Douglas is an NCAA Basketball writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter @thegpd93 or add him to your Google Network.

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