Let's face it - it's hard to get excited for this game as a fan. Sure, Pitt could lose (no, really), but looking past that fact, there's not a whole lot of intrigue or story behind this one.
Still, it's Pitt basketball, so that should get you excited at least a little.
Pittsburgh junior guard Ashton Gibbs is physically fit enough to play Wednesday against South Florida, but is planning to return Saturday against St. John’s at Madison Square Garden instead.
"I’ll be back Saturday," he said Tuesday.
Gibbs is getting closer, though:
Gibbs practiced with the team on Monday, in what was mostly a recovery day for the team. Pitt took a bus to Saturday’s game at Villanova, and returned to Pittsburgh just before 6 am on Sunday morning. Monday’s practice consisted of some shooting. Though Gibbs practiced, he was held out of contact drills.
"Ashton played, felt good," Dixon added. "It wasn’t with contact.
It makes perfect sense that he would be held out. Pitt should still be able to win this game, but even if the Panthers were playing a more difficult opponent, there's no reason Gibbs should play unless he's absolutely 100 percent.
And about that opponent.
South Florida is one of the league's worst teams. At 8-18 overall, they've also only won two conference games, defeating Providence and DePaul. There have been times when the Bulls have been competitive, though. The Bulls lost by one to Marquette a week ago and also to Providence and UConn by five points each. Add in another five-point loss to James Madison, a two-point double-overtime loss to BYU, and a six-point loss to Central Florida and it's easy to see that South Florida could be much closer to a .500 team.
The Bulls were also a 20-win team last year and many players were around for the team's 70-61 upset win over Pitt last season. South Florida then went out and beat 10th-ranked Georgetown on the road, so they've got experience in winning big road games.
Still, unless things go horribly wrong, Pitt should be able to win this game fairly easily. This year's Bulls team is worlds apart from last year's team and Pitt is better than they were last season.
Gibbs or no Gibbs, Pitt should come away with a victory.