Pittsburgh, Winless in the ACC, Just Might Beat Boston College

Matthew Jordan

Monday, February 12, 2018 5:30 PM UTC

Monday, Feb. 12, 2018 5:30 PM UTC

You might be asking why I am previewing Tuesday night’s apparently meaningless Boston College at Pittsburgh ACC matchup. Because it’s potentially huge for the terrible Panthers.

Boston College Eagles at Pittsburgh PanthersFree NCAAB Pick: PittsburghBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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There are some good games on Tuesday’s NCAA basketball schedule and this one from the ACC between Boston College and Pittsburgh with a 7 p.m. ET tip on ESPNEWS certainly doesn’t look like one of those. But I believe it’s huge for Pitt.

It’s the only scheduled meeting between the teams, neither of which will be playing postseason basketball other than going most likely one-and-done in the ACC Tournament. Last year, Pitt won in Chestnut Hill, 83-72, to snap an eight-game losing streak at the time. Michael Young led with 30 points, but he’s gone now. Jerome Robinson led Boston College with 22 points; he’s back and is the Eagles’ best player.

Pittsburgh leads the all-time series 34-17 – of course, they used to be Big East foes too. Boston College has lost 11 straight (3-8 ATS) vs. the Panthers.

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2017-18 Pitt Panther basketball pic.twitter.com/MnatxOTJGE

— Mike Rutherford (@CardChronicle) February 11, 2018

Pitt Program Has Fallen & Can’t Get Up!

Remember when the University of Pittsburgh was one of the better programs in the country? Under former coach Jamie Dixon, Pitt was a perennial Top 25 club and almost always made the NCAA Tournament. In 2015-16, Pitt was 21-12 and lost in the first round of the Big Dance. For whatever reason, the school pushed Dixon out, and he’s now working wonders at his alma mater TCU, which is going to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time this century.

Pitt replaced Dixon with former Vandy coach Kevin Stallings. That was met with collective yawns by the boosters, and it appears to have been a giant mistake. Pitt was just 16-17 last season and 4-14 in the ACC. Yet those records look glorious as Stallings’ current team is 8-18 (11-10 ATS) and 0-13 in the ACC. Pittsburgh is the only Power 5 conference school without a conference victory. All the other ones with a zero in the conference W column are mid-majors: Delaware State (MEAC), San Jose State (Mountain West), Incarnate Word and Northwestern State (Southland), and Chicago State (WAC).

It’s all but assumed that Stallings will be fired after this season; the current AD at the school, Heather Lyke, didn’t hire him but former AD Scott Barnes did. About the only thing to play for now for the Pitt players is to avoid an embarrassing winless ACC season. That has happened just six times in conference history. The last to do it Boston College in 2015-16. Before that, it hadn’t occurred since Maryland was 0-14 in 1986-87, the season after Len Bias’ death.

It’s not just that Pitt is bad, it’s getting crushed nightly. Only two conference losses have been by single digits: 72-68 vs. NC State and 60-55 vs. Syracuse. It just lost by 34 at home to Louisville on Sunday. Out of conference, Pitt lost to the likes of Navy and Montana. The Panthers are one of the nation’s worst offensive teams, putting up just 63.0 points per game, 345th nationally. No player even averages 13.0 points.

I believe Pitt has two realistic chances to avoid a winless league mark: this game and home to Wake Forest on Feb. 21. Pitt isn’t winning at either Florida State this Sunday or at Notre Dame on Feb. 28 to close the regular season.

Boston College (15-10 SU, 5-7 ACC, 10-9 ATS) is hardly a pushover. The Eagles upset then No. 1 Duke back on Dec. 9, beat Florida State on Jan. 15 and on Saturday knocked off No. 25 Miami, 72-70. All those games were at home, however.

Robinson leads the team in scoring at 20.4 ppg (second in ACC to Duke freshman Marvin Bagley III at 21.2 ppg). He had 46 points two games ago in a loss to the Irish and had 29 against the Hurricanes. Robinson became the first BC player in more than 50 years to follow up a 40-point game with at least 29 in his next outing. The guy plays every minute of most games. Meanwhile, Ky Bowman also could start for most schools. He’s the only player in the country to average at least 16.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game, and his five double-doubles in points and rebounds are the most in the nation by a player 6-1 or shorter. BC is decent enough offensively in averaging 75.9 ppg but allows 72.8.

The Pitt players know they have a shot here as BC is a completely different team on the road and has covered just three of its past 13 away. The Panthers have covered five of 10 at home. Not sure I’m ready to guarantee a Pitt win, but it will be close. Take the Panthers on Tuesday's NCAAB pick.

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