ACC Basketball elitists may have already written off their new brethren, but the former Big East conference members are the teams that prove to be the most dangerous come tournament. For years the argument had been made on both sides as to why each conference was better and a conclusion came today in the form of a conference championship by a true ACC team, but several former Big East teams remain alive for the most elusive prize in the sport. One team trying to overthrow those in power in the conference is the Pittsburgh Panthers who aided their tournament case with a win Saturday.
The Panthers defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in an overtime thriller in South Bend. The Panthers were lifted to an 85-81 victory by Lamar Patterson‘s stellar performance. The leader of the team proved once again why the Panthers are contenders in the tournament as he racked up 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. The Panthers subpar performance in the conference season is not indicative of Pittburgh’s enormous potential, but is rather a testament to how good the ACC really is this season.
Pittsburgh is currently in fifth place in the ACC with a 10-6 conference record, but the Panthers are destined for much bigger things in the postseason. The Panthers are currently projected to be an eight seed in the NCAA tournament which could open up the door for chaos in whatever region the team is placed.
In the big dance, anything is possible with a star player and the Panthers have that in Patterson, who is averaging 17.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 4.4 APG this season. Pittsburgh is lying in the weeds at the moment, but this is a team that can strike when the time is right.
Greg Douglas is a College Basketball writer at RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter @thegpd93 or add him to your Google Network.