Pittsburgh exceeded most projections during the regular season, and the Panthers would like to do that again in the postseason.
They will be favored in their first game of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament when they clash with Georgia Tech in a second-round matchup on Wednesday afternoon at Greensboro, N.C.
“I feel really, really good about our team, about what we have accomplished and what we can accomplish going forward,” Pitt coach Jeff Capel said. “That’s my focus.”
Fifth-seeded Pittsburgh (21-10) received a first-round bye, but there could have been much more for the Panthers. They went into the regular-season finale Saturday with a chance to secure the top seed for the league tournament, but instead a loss to then-No. 16 Miami along with other results in the league had Pitt sliding down.
“We’re not panicked,” Capel said. “I think we’ll stick to what we’ve been doing. We move on. Now it’s the postseason.”
The loss to the Hurricanes gave Pittsburgh back-to-back defeats following a setback at Notre Dame.
No. 13 seed Georgia Tech (15-17) has already had tournament excitement with Tuesday afternoon’s 61-60 victory against Florida State. The Yellow Jackets came back from 11 points down in the second half, scoring the final six points of the game.
The Yellow Jackets, who used only six players Tuesday, have won four games in a row since losing 76-68 on Feb. 21 at Pittsburgh.
“I thought we played really well against Pitt,” Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said. “If we’re going to beat Pittsburgh, we’re going to have to be really good.”
Pittsburgh had some notable All-ACC recognition, with Jamarius Burton (15.6 points per game) a first-team choice and Blake Hinson (16.1) a second-team pick. Nike Sibande averaged 9.7 points per game in conference play on the way to being selected as the ACC Sixth Man of the Year. Capel was named ACC Coach of the Year.
The Panthers hold their highest seed for the ACC tournament in nine years. They swept Georgia Tech during the regular season.
“You should be pretty familiar with them for the third time and have a feel for what they do,” Capel said, knowing Wednesday’s game would be against a team Pittsburgh had already faced twice. “You may tweak a few things, but just trying to be as fresh as you can be.”
Capel said there has been some defensive slippage lately, something the Panthers will look to restore.
Georgia Tech won the 2021 ACC tournament, which was also held in Greensboro.
–Field Level Media