The Pittsburgh Panthers have found the perfect time to be playing their best basketball of the season after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels and giving the Virginia Cavaliers all they could handle in the ACC tournament.
Senior forward Talib Zanna has blossomed into a star during the last stretch of games and will be the crucial player for the Panthers. Zanna completely dominated the glass against the Tar Heels when he grabbed 21 rebounds and score 19 points in the victory. Zanna followed that up with 15 points and nine rebounds. While the Panthers lost the game to the Cavaliers, they did put up quite the challenge and had a shot to pull off the upset.
The Panthers are the no. 9 seed in the South region in the NCAA tournament and while the seeding seems fit for what Pittsburgh did this season, playing the no. 8 seed Colorado seems like a mismatch. Colorado lost its best player during the season when Spencer Dinwiddie went down with an ACL injury in January. Colorado managed to only go 9-8 since he was sidelined and are backing into the tournament having been blown out by the Arizona Wildcats.
Colorado finished tied for third in the Pac-12. Colorado does not have a signature win since Dinwiddie went down and the offense has struggled. On the season, Colorado averaged 70.9 points per game and only scored more than 80 points three times since Jan. 18. Pittsburgh prides itself on defense and should be able to lock down the already subpar Colorado offense.
Colorado also does not have an answer for Pittsburgh senior guard Lamar Patterson. Patterson played through an injured hand during the season, but has looked better lately and scored 15 points against the tough Virginia defense.
There is no such thing as a sure bet in the NCAA tournament, but Pittsburgh does seem to have a strong advantage over Colorado.