Mired in a five-game losing streak, things aren't going to get much easier for Pitt when they travel to Top 25 ranked Marquette on Saturday afternoon.
Now, the Golden Eagles have dropped two out of their last three games, but they've been to top ten teams Syracuse and Georgetown. Marquette also has some good neutral court site wins this season and have beaten Wisconsin on the road. And at 8-1 at home, they'll be tough to beat - especially for a struggling Pitt team that hasn't done much in conference play.
Marquette is led by a pair of seniors - guard Darius Johnson-Odom and forward Jae Crowder. Both are likely candidates for first- or second-team All Big East honors and are the staples to this team. Johnson-Odom is the team's leading scorer, averaging just over 18 points per game. Crowder comes in second with 16.4 points and also leads the team in rebounds (7.4) and steals (2.1) per contest. The Panthers had some trouble with the duo in their win last year, as they scored a combined 30 points.
For Pitt, though, this one might come down to offense more than simply stopping Johnson-Odom and Crowder. The team had one of its worst shooting performances in the history of the program in its last game against Rutgers, hitting only 21% of their attempts and scoring a meager 39 points. It goes without saying that the Panthers' offense should be better, but the question is 'How much?' Jamie Dixon may turn to sophomore J.J. Moore to provide some scoring off the bench. He played 24 minutes against the Scarlet Knights in Pitt's last contest -- the most he's played since before Christmas. Moore, like everyone else, didn't shoot well from the field, but he was the only Panther to get into double figures, scoring ten points. Depending on how well he plays at the onset, he could see even more time in Saturday's tilt.
The Rutgers game was a rock-bottom moment of sorts for Pitt, and it will be interesting to see how they rebound. A win, while needed, isn't the only objective. Pitt needs to, at the very least, come out with a desire to compete, as they appeared to go through the motions in that last game.
For more on the game and Pitt basketball, check out SB Nation's Pitt blog, Cardiac Hill.