Coming off of a very lackluster performance against Oakland, the Pitt Panthers will be pinned against the number five team in the nation, the Michigan Wolverines. This game is the N.I.T Tip Off Tournament Semi-Finals, and it will happen in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.
Michigan is a very good basketball team, they do not have too many faults. Do I buy into the whole number five rating? No, because where has Michigan been in the past couple of years besides the bottom half of the Big Ten. I feel almost as if Michigan is another NC State, just someone who the AP thought would be cool to have in the top ten at the beginning of the year.
Pitt will look for its offense to come back in this game. To this point, freshman point guard James Robinson has only accounted for two turnovers in four games, and his dynamic duo partner Steven Adams has been one of the best all around players on the team. Both will need to step up their game on Wednesday night if the Panthers want to leave the Garden with a win.
Michigan has yet to play a good team. Some could argue that Pitt is the same, but I would argue back saying that Lehigh was an excellent test, as was Oakland to an extent. Michigan has been averaging just over 51 percent from the field, thus allowing them to score a little under 90 points on average each game. Do I anticipate them scoring this much on the stingy Panthers defense? No, the Panthers have yet to have someone score over 60 in regulation so for them to just randomly give up a 90 spot would be very confusing and concerning.
Michigan is led on the offensive end by Tim Hardaway Jr. who is averaging 17 points a game to this point. The biggest threat for Zanna and Adams will come from fellow freshman Mitch McGary who is averaging 9 rebounds a game. McGary stands at 6-10 and plays a very physical basketball game. Adams will need to man up a little bit and body up McGary if he expects to get any rebounds or points.
Michigan runs a 4 guard offense for the most part which may impact the starting lineup for the Panthers a little bit, but I do not expect to see too many changes come Wednesday night. I would maybe anticipate Adams coming off the bench in exchange for another shooter and faster defender like JJ Moore who has certainly earned his wings.
As always.. HAIL TO PITT!