After having won four straight, the Panthers were flying high, and there was even talk of a potential NCAA Tournament bid despite having previously suffered eight straight losses. But after losing to West Virginia on Thursday, that talk has come to an abrupt halt. Sure, Pitt can still technically get into the Big Dance by winning the Big East Tournament, but with the way the team has played lately, that seems unlikely.
Point guard Tray Woodall was the catalyst for Pitt's strong play a few weeks back, but he has also, ironically, become one of the reasons the team has struggled so much. In the three losses, Woodall has failed to reach his scoring average and also has not done a good job of taking care of the ball. Over that stretch, he's averaged four turnovers per contest, and under 11 points. He hasn't been the sole reason for the team's woes, but he's certainly not done his part to help keep Pitt afloat.
Pitt will face a South Florida team that started the losing streak by handing the Panthers a 12-point loss in Tampa back on February 8. Pitt scored a meager 51 points against the Bulls' tough defense, and after another sub 40 percent shooting night from the field against the Mountaineers, the Panthers could have just as much trouble putting points on the scoreboard. The Panthers had one of their worst shooting nights against South Florida in that game, making less than 35 percent of their shots. To make matters worse, the team turned the ball over a whopping 17 times.
On defense, Pitt had a lot of trouble against senior Hugh Robertson. Robertson, who averages only about six points a game, went off against Pitt for 18. He presented mismatch problems all night and was really the difference. I don't know if Robertson can repeat that outburst, but if Pitt doesn't hold him in check, they could be in for another long night.
For more on the game and Pitt basketball, check out SB Nation blog, Cardiac Hill.