Pitt Vs. UConn: Panthers Try To Stay Ahead Of The Pack In Big East

Pitt plays UConn on the road at 7:30 PM on Thursday. To get us started, here are Anson Whaley's picks for the Big East games this week.

Welcome to elimination week, friends. With the Big East season in full swing, right now it's looking like Pitt, followed by everyone else. The Panthers' overall record isn't any different than that of other Big East teams, but it's the conference season that sets Pitt apart. As the only undefeated team in conference play, Pitt is looking like the favorite right now, as every other team has two Big East losses. Other than the Panthers, teams that fall this week will likely have no chance to win the conference championship. Here are picks for this week's games:
 
Pitt (5-3) vs. Connecticut (4-4)
The Panthers head on the road to take on a Connecticut team that looked buried a few weeks ago. That all changed when the Huskies went into West Virginia and pulled out a 16-13 OT win. But Connecticut lost to two teams that Pitt already beat pretty handily in Rutgers and Louisville. Playing a weeknight road conference game is always a tricky situation, but I think Pitt keeps its focus and wins this one. Pitt 30, UConn 17
 
South Florida (5-3) vs. Louisville (5-4)
These teams are both improving and are each 2-1 in the last three games. Both have played pretty good defense this year and rank in the top 30 in points allowed. We don't yet know if Cardinals' QB Adam Froman and RB Bilal Powell will suit up, so this is a tough game to predict. Assuming they do, I'll take the home team in this matchup, which could be a defensive struggle. Louisville 20, USF 13
 
Cincinnati (3-5) vs. West Virginia (5-3)
At the beginning of the season, this looked like it could be a key game in deciding the conference champion. Instead, it's virtually an elimination game. The loser will have three conference losses and, for all intents and purposes, be out of the race. Cincinnati can put points on the board when Zach Collaros is in the lineup, and it looks like he will be. But the Bearcats haven't really beaten anyone this season - their best win was a 35-27 victory at Louisville. Playing on the road at West Virginia is too great a task, especially with a defense that isn't very good. WVU 31, Cincinnati 21
 
Syracuse (6-3) vs. Rutgers (4-4)
Both of these teams are still alive in the conference race - barely. Both need to win out and hope Pitt loses three out of its last four games to have a shot at winning the title. So like the Cincinnati/WVU and USF/Louisville contests, this is essentially an elimination game. Syracuse has looked like the better team all season and, more importantly, is 4-1 on the road. They've actually been better on the road than at home (2-2) and I expect them to handle the Scarlet Knights. Syracuse 28, Rutgers 17

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