Pitt has the rare football/basketball doubleheader going for it today. The Panthers' football team will face Cincinnati in the regular season finale at noon and with the basketball game starting at 2:00 p.m., so there will be a point in the day when both games are on at the same time.
On the hoops side of things, Pitt will face a Rider team that is a bit of an unknown. Rider is 5-3 on the season and owns a 20-point road win at USC. That might normally be an eye-opener, but the Trojans are down this season, so it's hard to know just how great of a win that is. That said, when a mid-major school defeats a team from any large conference by 20 points on the road, it's noteworthy.
And if you think Rider's going to be intimidated at the Pete, they've done some of their best work this season on the road. On top of the USC win, they've also defeated Manhattan by a whopping 29 points in its first conference game of the season. The team's only road loss was to an undefeated UMass team.
The Broncs are an accurate shooting team, hitting nearly 49% of their field goals and 45% of their three-point shots. That's always a formula for disaster as a hot-shooting team can beat anyone. But with the team's tallest regulars topping out at 6-foot-7, Pitt gets yet another undersized team to beat up on inside. The Broncs average only 33.5 rebounds per game, and rank near the bottom of the country in that category. The Panthers, on the other hand, ranks 3rd with nearly 47 per game.
One player I'm interested in following on the court again is Gary McGhee. McGhee had gotten off to a slow start this season, but looked rejuvenated in the City Game against Duquesne on Wednesday. Part of it could have been that he was playing against some familiar faces. Part of it could be that he just happened to be in the right place at the right time. But either way, it was good to see him get going. Hopefully that was a confidence builder for him to get going a bit more offensively. Against Duquesne, he had career highs in points, rebounds, and his career best in blocks (seven) also tied a school record.
With or without a big game from McGhee, Pitt should be able to beat Rider pretty handily.