Pitt now has a clear path to claiming the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title following No. 6 Virginia’s blowout loss to Boston College on Wednesday.
A big step toward that goal will come Saturday afternoon, when Pitt (20-8, 13-4 ACC) will renew a former Big East rivalry and play host to Syracuse (16-12, 9-8).
Pitt can catch Miami and win the ACC by winning its final three games, including its season finale at Miami to break a tie.
The Panthers will be well-rested after a bounce-back 76-68 win over Georgia Tech on Tuesday, in which they had four starters score in double digits.
Nelly Cummings led the charge for Pitt, dropping 22 points for the third time this season. He also tallied seven assists and six rebounds, as well as going a perfect 7-for-7 from the free-throw line.
Cummings’ strong performance helped Pitt secure the program’s first 20-win season since 2015-16.
“We’re in the moment right now, it’s hard to reflect on those things right now because we know we have a heck of a game coming up on Saturday,” Pitt coach Jeff Capel said of achieving the 20-win milestone. “We have a lot of games left and we’ll reflect on it when it’s over with, but it’s certainly something we don’t take for granted.”
That “heck of a game” will be the Panthers’ last home game of the season against Syracuse. The Orange are in the middle of the pack, currently sitting at No. 9 in the ACC.
They enter Saturday’s contest on a rough two-game skid, losing by 22 points to Duke and 18 points to Clemson.
“Right now, we can’t stop anybody,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said after the most recent loss to Clemson. “We’re going to have to play better defense over the last three games and I think we can.”
Syracuse is led by a two-headed monster of guards, Joseph Girard III and Judah Mintz, who are averaging 16.8 and 16.0 points, respectively.
Pitt won the first meeting, 84-82 on Dec. 20.
–Field Level Media