PITTSBURGH PA - DECEMBER 11: Cameron Tatum #23 and Kenny Hall #20 of the Tennessee Volunteers battle for a rebound with Nasir Robinson #35 of the Pittsburgh Panthers during the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational at Consol Energy Center on December 11 2010 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.The Volunteers defeated the Panthers 83-76. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Pitt Vs. Tennessee: How Far Will Pitt Fall After Loss To Tennessee?

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College Basketball Rankings: With Loss To Tennessee, How Far Will Pitt Fall?

The Pitt Panthers were ranked No. 3 in last week’s AP college basketball rankings, behind Duke and Ohio State. But Pitt’s convincing loss to No. 11 Tennessee should bump Pitt down several spots. Just how low will the Panthers go?

No. 4 Kansas stayed undefeated and beat No. 14 Memphis, so the Jayhawks will definitely pass Pitt. No. 5 Kansas State and No. 6 UConn didn’t face any serious tests this past week and will probably pass Pitt as well. No. 7 Michigan State lost to No. 8 Syracuse, which stayed undefeated, so Syracuse should bump Pitt while Michigan State doesn’t. No. 9 Georgetown lost to Temple, and that’s probably where we can stop worrying about Pitt falling, although Tennessee has now beaten two ranked teams and should move past Pitt as well.

Here’s my guess, then, at what the AP poll will look like when it comes out:

1. Duke
2. Ohio State
3. Kansas
4. Kansas State
5. UConn
6. Syracuse
7. Tennessee
8. Pitt
9. Baylor
10. Villanova

Pitt will bounce back nicely in the rankings if the Panthers can beat UConn in two weeks.


Pitt Vs. Tennessee: Panthers Outhustled, Outrebounded, Outplayed

Pitt was simply outplayed in today’s ugly 83-76 loss. The final score will only show a seven-point defeat, but make no mistake about it – the game was never that close. Pitt fought back at the end of the second half, but by then, it was far too late.

To Pitt’s credit, there’s not much you can do when you run into a team that’s shooting lights out. Tennessee shot 56% from the field to Pitt’s 41%. The Panthers were also beaten at their own game. The Vols played better defense, rebounded better, and generally outhustled a clearly frustrated Pitt team.

How often do you hear of a team doing those three things better than Pitt?

That’s why I’m willing to write this game off somewhat as an anomaly. But it's a bit hard to swallow that Pitt allowed his to happen in a virtual home game. There were approximately 23 Tennessee fans in the crowd. Okay, maybe a few more than that, but you get the picture. No way Pitt should be beaten like this at home.

I am, however, also willing to concede that Pitt is most assuredly not the No. 3 team in the country. True, the Panthers have won a few nice games out of conference this season, but if today’s game showed anything, there’s still much work to be done. While Pitt ran into an incredibly hot Tennessee game today, things like free throws are things you can control even under such circumstances. The Panthers shot 60% from the stripe today.

And even though the other team is shooting well, that’s not reason for your bigs to go AWOL. 14 combined points from Gary McGhee, Talib Zanna, Dante Taylor, and Nasir Robinson? Really? Kurt Rambis called and he wants his game back. I know our frontcourt players aren’t necessarily the best at post moves, but man. That’s far too little production.

Pitt is still a pretty good team, but today’s game exposed plenty of weaknesses.


Pitt Vs. Tennessee: Panthers Lose First Game Of Season

Scotty Hopson scored 27 points for the Tennessee Volunteers, who dealt Pitt its first loss of the season, 83-76. The game wasn’t quite as close as the score made it appear, as the Volunteers led at halftime and opened up a big lead late into the second half, then held off a late Panthers rally.

Brad Wanamaker had 21 points for the Panthers, and Gilbert Brown had 15 points. So did Ashton Gibbs, but Gibbs only shot 4-for-13 from the field.

We’ll see how the Panthers loss will impact the college basketball rankings, when those come out later this week. Pitt had been ranked No. 3 in the country, and while the Panthers are still 10-1, this game was their highest-profile of the year. The win should provide a rankings boost for No. 11 Tennessee, which now stands at 7-0.

Tennessee also received help against the Panthers from Melvin Goins, who scored 19 points, and Cameron Tatum, who had 14.


Pitt Vs. Tennessee: Panthers Battle Volunteers In Big East/SEC Challenge

Pitt faces the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday in a matchup of top 15-ranked teams. The Panthers enter the game No. 3 in both polls, while Tennessee is No. 11 in the AP Poll and No. 13 in the ESPN/USA Today. The contest is part of the Big East/SEC Challenge and is the only matchup of ranked teams this weekend. The Pitt-Tennessee game is the second in a double header at the new Consol Energy Center. Rutgers and Auburn will kick things off in the opener.

This is the first season in which Pitt has participated in the event. Since there are only a small handful of games each year, not every team plays in the event.

Both schools have faced some challenging teams this year and have come out undefeated. Pitt holds victories against Maryland and Texas, while Tennessee has beaten a top ten Villanova team.

Pitt's frontcourt will have its hands full with talented freshman forward, 6-foot-8 Tobias Harris. Harris is one of the nation's top players and may very well be Tennessee's best player, averaging 16.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. But it's not just his inside game Pitt needs to be worried about - Harris is shooting more than 50% from the field and an astonishing 75% from three-point range this season.

Tennessee could have taken an easier path, but instead chose to play the Panthers in what will amount to a road game:

"We had the opportunity to play Marquette in Nashville. And there weren't a lot of volunteers to go up there to Pittsburgh and play Pittsburgh without a return game," Pearl said. "So as to put myself in good stead with our commissioner (Mike Slive), I volunteered the game. So we'll see how it works out."

The Vols are more than capable of beating Pitt, even on the road and unlike most teams the Panthers have faced, have enough rebounding to get the job done. Pitt ranks fourth in the nation in rebounding, but Tennessee isn't far behind at No. 14.

Still, in virtually a road game and with the Panthers' depth, I expect Pitt to win a close one on Saturday.

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