In recent seasons, mid-February had delivered few meaningful games for a Pittsburgh program that routinely found itself out of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship mix.
This season, however, coach Jeff Capel’s squad is enjoying its best league campaign since joining the conference in 2013 and is in a position to claim its first-ever ACC regular-season title.
Pitt can take another step toward that milestone on Saturday when it battles host Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.
The Panthers (19-7, 12-3 ACC) have won six straight games and sit atop the league standings alongside No. 7 Virginia, which dropped a 68-65 decision in Pittsburgh on Jan. 3.
A win against the Hokies (15-11, 5-10) would give the Panthers their first 20-win season since 2015-16, the last time Pitt reached the NCAA Tournament. It also would continue a breakout campaign that’s seen the Panthers notch double-digit league wins for the first time since 2013-14.
Pitt sank 11 3-pointers to breeze to a 77-58 victory over Boston College on Tuesday.
Blake Hinson and Greg Elliott combined for 10 of the 3-pointers, while Federiko Federiko stymied Quinten Post. Post, who averages 16.1 points, was limited to seven on Tuesday.
“Once we settled into it, we got into a good rhythm offensively,” Capel said. “I thought our defense throughout the game was outstanding … Federiko on Post was big time.”
Virginia Tech’s perimeter defense was picked apart during a brutal 77-70 road loss on Wednesday against a Georgia Tech team that entered the game a measly 2-13 in league play.
Despite a 21-point effort from Grant Basile, the Hokies trailed by as many as 16 and allowed the Yellow Jackets to drill 11 of 22 3-pointers.
“We have to guard better night in, night out,” Hokies coach Mike Young told reporters following Wednesday’s defeat. “You can’t hang your hat on outscoring people … we’ve been very, very good defensively, (but) we have had nights like this one where we weren’t very good.”
Virginia Tech has won eight of the last 10 matchups with Pitt, including the last five in Blacksburg.
–Field Level Media