Pitt will look to continue their recent hot streak with a win over the Villanova Wildcats at the Pete on Sunday afternoon.
Villanova, like Pitt, is experiencing an uncharacteristic down season. The Wildcats enter Sunday's matchup 10-12 on the season with a 3-7 conference record. But unlike Pitt, Nova's season doesn't appear to be turning around anytime soon. The Wildcats are 2-4 over the past six games owning a win over Seton Hall and a narrow overtime win against St. John's sandwiched in between two sets of two losses.
On the surface, while this is a game Pitt should win, it's far from a guarantee.
The Panthers could have problems with Villanova's front line led by Mouphtaou Yarou. Yarou leads the team in rebounding averaging more than eight per game, but he's just one piece of the puzzle. The Wildcats rank in the top ten in the nation in rebounding hauling in more than 40 per contest.
But the challenges for Pitt aren't limited to the frontcourt. Nova's backcourt led by Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek will be difficult for the Panthers to handle. The junior guards average more than 30 points per game and Ashton Gibbs and Tray Woodall will need to keep a close eye on them.
Yet another concern should be on slowing Villanova down. In their past five games, the team hasn't scored fewer than 74 points. Even in Pitt's recent winning streak, they've only topped that number once. Even in defeat, the Wildcats have shown the ability to put points on the board.
Pitt could catch a break, though, with Villanova's shooting. The Wildcats are one of the worst shooting teams in the NCAA, converting only 42 percent of their shots. If they can't shoot any better than that against Pitt's improving defense on Sunday, that will increase Pitt's chances.
For more on the game and Pitt basketball, check out SB Nation's Pitt blog, Cardiac Hill.