Miami vs Pittsburgh Pick: This year’s NCAA tournament will begin on Tuesday at Greensboro Coliseum when the No.12 Pittsburgh Panthers (10-11) take on the No.13 Miami Hurricanes (8-16). The two teams met earlier this year when the Panthers won 70-55.
Inside the Canes
Miami only had seven-player during that game and has been haunted by injuries throughout the season. The Hurricanes were predicted to finish seventh in the standings mostly due to ACC first-team selection Chris Lykes.
He only played a couple of games for receiving a season-ending ankle injury. His absence had an immediate effect on the Hurricanes as they lost to Florida Gulf Coast and their first four ACC games.
During the regular season, the Hurricanes were one of the worst shooting teams. They were ranked 299th in effective field goal percentage and ranked 329th in three-point shooting.
The Hurricanes are missing Chris Lykes (G), Harlond Beverly (G), and Earl Timberlake (G).
Miami had only seven players when they took on Boston College. Out of those seven players, only five scored. Deng Gak and Willie Herenton both went scoreless against Boston College with a combined 22 minutes of play.
The Panthers should still keep their guard as Miami has won several shockers with only seven players for example they beat both Duke and Louisville. Miami will be taking on an average Panthers defense as they are ranked No. 103 in KenPoms adjusted efficiency ratings.
Sophomore guard Isaiah Wong has stepped up and been a leader for Miami’s offense. He leads the team with 17.1 points and 5.0 rebounds. He scored 21 points in his loss to Pittsburgh earlier in the season.
Guard Kameron McGusty had some injury issues at the beginning of the season but is playing now and is averaging 12.5 while guard Elijah Olaniyi is producing 11.1 points and 5.1 rebounds.
Kameron McMgusty (G), Isaiah Wong (G), Elijah Olaniyi (G), Anthony Walker III (F), and Nysier Brooks.
A look at Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh got off to a great start in the ACC with a 4-1 record. The Panthers were projected to finish No. 13 in the ACC. That great start didn’t last long as they went on to lost nine of their last eleven regular season games. They ended their season with a 77-62 loss against the Clemson Tigers.
Like the Hurricanes Pittsburgh has struggled to shoot the ball. They are ranked 245th in effective field goal percentage. The Panthers are able to make up for missed shots with rebounds as they are No. 21 in offensive rebounding.
They are facing a Miami defense that is ranked No. 114 by KenPom’s adjusted efficiency ratings. Miami’s strength shows in their defensive rebounding so Pittsburgh will need to focus on that throughout the game.
Forward Justin Champagnie leads the Panthers team with 18.4 points and is averaging a double-double with 11.1 rebounds. He only scored 10 points during his first meeting with Miami this season but only played 24 minutes due to foul trouble.
The Panthers team is not the same as it was when Miami first faced them. Junior guard Au’Diese Toney was averaging 14.4 points and guard Xavier Johnson was adding 14.2 points and 5.7 assists before they both entered the transfer portal at the end of February.
Ithiel Horton (G), Femi Odukale Jr. (G), Nike Sibande (G), Karim Coulibaly (F), and Justin Champagnie (F)
The Canes have had to fight all season dealing with injuries and relying on underclassmen to step up and make plays. The Canes are a scrappy team and will be playing a very physical Pittsburgh team that attacks the boards.
The Panthers are ranked 32nd in the nation in rebound percentage and are especially good on the offensive side. Expect Miami to put up a fight but just not enough to come out on top after 40 minutes of basketball.
For the spread, I predict the Panthers at -4(-110). As for the Over/Under the total has gone under in seven of the last eight head-to-head matchups between the two teams. I predict the total to be under 137(-110).