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Rutgers Vs. Pitt: Panthers In Must-Win Situation Against Scarlet Knights?

It might be a bit premature to say that Pitt is in a must-win situation, but the Panthers better start winning soon if they want to keep their NCAA Tournament streak alive.

Pitt is past the midway point of its season and at 11-5 (including 0-3 in Big East play), time is running out for the Panthers. The team's biggest problem may be that they've yet to get into the meat of their conference schedule. With 15 games left in the season, the Panthers still have two games against Louisville, and road games against No. 1 Syracuse, ranked UConn and Marquette teams, and also surprising Seton Hall and West Virginia. There's also a home matchup against a ranked Georgetown team in there.

The good news is that remaining schedule gives Pitt several chances at quality wins to impress the selection committee, but the flip side is tat unless they start playing better, beating any of those teams could be a pipe dream.

But before Pitt gets into those games, they've got a matchup against Rutgers on Wednesday night at 7:00 PM at the Pete.

At first glance, Rutgers looks very beatable at only 9-7. But the Scarlet Knights have definitely not laid down for the competition. They won each of their two games against ranked teams, defeating UConn this past weekend and Florida in their last game of 2011, although both those wins came at home. Rutgers has only gone on the road twice this season and dropped both games, losing to Miami (FL) and South Florida.

While Rutgers is led by freshman Eli Carter, he's actually been playing better against the team's more difficult competition. He averages 14.2 points per game on the season, but has averaged nearly 25 per contest in the team's last four games against West Virginia, UConn, South Florida, and Florida.

This game may not technically be a must-win situation, but the Panthers would make things easier on themselves if they won this one.

For more on the game and Pitt basketball, check out SB Nation's blog Cardiac Hill.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.