Pittsburgh Basketball looks to get a second straight ACC home win this weekend against Notre Dame. What do the Panthers need to do to win?
Despite trailing by 10 points at halftime, Pittsburgh Basketball was able to get a needed home win over Wake Forest, 77-72. It put the Panthers at 4-6 in ACC play and 3 wins out of 4 overall. With road games at Virginia and NC State up next, it's a must-win for them this week at home against Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish enters this game with a 7-14 record, 2-8 in ACC play. They may be on a five-game losing skid but this team has proved to be a hard out for teams that don't take them seriously. Here's a look at what Pittsburgh needs to do to avoid an upse
1. Defend Markus Burton
The Irish is one of the lowest-scoring teams in all of college basketball, ranking 356th out of 362 teams at 62.0 ppg, easily the worst in the SEC. The lone double-digit scorer on the team is Burton, a freshman guard who is averaging 16.0 ppg and 4.1 apg on 42% shooting from the field. He's been in double figures in all but two games this season, including five games with at least 20 points.
It's similar to Louisville last year, when El Ellis was the main source of the offense. If he goes off, the Irish will have a shot at winning. But as long as the Panthers bottle him up and make him have an inefficient night from the field, the home team will be in good shape.
2. Limit impact of Braeden Shrewsberry
Coach Micah Shrewsberry's son had an awful start to the season shooting but has really turned it on in ACC play. The 6th Man freshman has six double-digit scoring games of the last seven, including a 25-point outing in the upset win over Georgia Tech, going 5/9 from deep.
The freshman guard has become an x-factor for the Irish and if he's now a consistent double-digit contributor, the offense suddenly can be viable enough to compete in the ACC. Shrewsbery's 34% 3PT shooting leads the team among those with at least 10 makes and has made 2+ in each of the last seven games. He's become just as important for Pitt to deal with as Burton now.
3. Continued good play from Ishmael Leggett
One big reason for Pittsburgh's recent winning stretch has been the junior guard having a big impact off the bench. After recovering from an injury, Leggett has been in double figures for the last four games, including 22 points and five rebounds in the win over Wake Forest.
Leggett was in double figures in the first 11 games and had a rough month where between health and his shot falling, didn't get to 10 points. If Pittsburgh has the earlier version of Leggett back going forward, they can now withstand one of the freshmen guards struggling and still be in a position to win.