Pitt heads down to Tennessee to take on the Volunteers in a rematch from last season. The game is part of the Big East-SEC Challenge.
The two teams squared off last season as Tennessee came out victorious against Pitt in the Consol Energy Center. This time, it's the Panthers' turn to travel and Pitt should be tested in this game. The Vols played respectably in a ten-point loss to Duke and a two-point loss to then No. 8 Memphis. Tennessee doesn't have any impressive wins, but in those close losses to top ten teams, they should, at the very least, give Pitt a good game.
The Volunteers come into the game averaging nearly 85 points a game, good for 12th in the nation. Pitt's defense, which had been a bit suspect earlier this year, has improved. But the team has feasted on some very mediocre competition. Trying to match up against the Tennessee offense will be a good indication of just how good the defense is.
Pitt is going to be without the services of starting junior point guard Tray Woodall. Woodall is expected to be out for at least the next month with groin and ab injuries sustained in the City Game against Duquesne earlier this week. His loss will be a big blow to a team that is already fairly young.
Head coach Jamie Dixon can go in a few different directions. One of the more likely scenarios could be to either play true freshman John Johnson at the point and keep the rest of the starting lineup as is. Johnson has played well off the bench this season and has showed above average composure as a freshman. Dixon may have reservations about starting him this game, though, since it's a road contest.
Another potential option might be to to play Ashton Gibbs at the point and start Lamar Patterson at shooting guard. Patterson played well there last year in filling in for Gibbs and is a bit more experienced than Johnson. Regardless of the direction Dixon takes, Pitt's bench will be a bit thinner. The team was already lacking veteran depth at guard and Woodall's injury will certainly hurt.