Miami Hurricanes vs. Pittsburgh Panthers – NCAAM March 9

ACC Tournament Opener

(12) Pitt (10-11, 6-10) vs. (13) Miami (8-16, 4-15)

  • Time: 11AM PST | 1PM CST | 2PM EST
  • Location: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC
  • TV: ACC Network

Opening Tip

Two teams that have had tough seasons meet when the Pitt Panthers and Miami Hurricanes kickoff the 66th ACC Tournament. Both teams ironically come into the game losing nine out of their last 11 contests.

Pittsburgh had some late season attrition when the Panthers’ second and third leading scorers in Au’Diese Toney and Xavier Johnson left the program and went into the transfer portal immediately. The Panthers are 1-2 since then with a win over Wake Forest and losses to NC State and Clemson.

Miami has had a deluge of injuries that have paralyzed a team that when at 100 percent would have had an upper echelon finish in the ACC and most likely would have been headed to the NCAA Tournament. The ‘Canes’ four returning starters have totaled only 20 of a possible 96 games of potential participation. In addition five other Hurricanes total 26 total games with injuries.

Pitt is 6-7 in ACC Tournament play while Miami is 15-15 and 12-4 in opening games. The Hurricanes were the No. 1 seed in 2013 when they won the tournament with three double-digit victories.

Vs. The Spread

Miami:

  • The Hurricanes check in at 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games vs. Pitt
  • Miami is also 7-2 SU in their last 9 battles with the Panthers
  • The UNDER has been the play in 4 of the Hurricanes last 6 dates in March

Pittsburgh:

  • The total has gone UNDER in 7 of the last 8 Miami-Pitt matchups
  • The Panthers are 5-15 ATS in their last 20 games played in March
  • Pitt is 1-6 SU in it’s last 7 games

Last Time Out

Kameron McGusty scored 27 points and Miami avoided a late Boston College rally to top the Eagles, 80-76 in Coral Gables last Friday. McGusty was 9-of-12 from the floor as he hit four three-point shots and dished out five assists. Center Nysier Brooks had a career-high 21 points as he was 8-of-11 from the field.

Pitt trailed wire-to-wire as the Panthers lost 77-62 at Clemson on Saturday. Justin Champagnie led the Pitt effort with 13 points while Clemson exploited the Panthers’ defense by shooting 55.8 percent from the floor.

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Miami +3 (-110) +130 O 136 (-112)
Pittsburgh -3 (-110) -150 U 136 (-108)

Advantage, Miami

Miami Hurricanes LogoFor all Isaiah Wong (17.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.3 apg) did for the crippled Hurricanes this season, third-team all-ACC seems a bit low. He and backcourt made Kameron McGusty (12.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg) look like they are up to the challenge against a Pitt team who has started freshman Femi Odukale on the point and William Jeffress at a three since the loss of Toney and Johnson. Miami can come at Pitt off the dribble with Wong, who got to the line 106 times, as well as well as Elijah Olaniyi. (11.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg). McGusty is 15-of-23 from the floor and has averaged 20.5 points in his last two games.

Key Hurricanes Stat:

Wong is the ticket for the Hurricanes as he is on the floor for 87.4 percent of the total minutes while he is not he court for 24.2 percent of Miami’s possessions as the ‘Canes take 27.2 percent of their shots when he is on the floor.

X-Factor:

Anthony Walker and Nysier Brooks in the paint have to try and control Pitt’s Justin Champagnie. If they can at least neutralize Champagnie, so that he doesn’t get in the mid-20s or over, it will put the onus on some other Panthers to step up in a crucial situation and win the game. Here is where they will miss Toney or Johnson the most.

Advantage, Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Panthers LogoJustin Champagnie (18.4 ppg, 11.1 rpg) was a worthy candidate for ACC Player of the Year honors as he led the league with 13 double-doubles and is the only Power 7 conference player averaging a double-double for the season. This is the meal ticket for the Panthers for however long they can stay in the tournament field. Champagnie has to have help and it’s uncertain where this comes from with the losses of Toney and Johnson. Ithiel Horton and Femi Odukale look like the best options although neither has sustained on the offensive end of the floor. Horton does have 41 threes, but had a pair of games where he didn’t score from the floor before 11 vs. Clemson.

Key Panthers Stat:

Back to Toney and Johnson, they were tough off the dribble and would have occupied Miami’s guards on defense as they got to the line 176 combined times. Odukale has proven he can get to the line as well, but has made only 32-of-65 free throws this season.

X-Factor:

Coach Jeff Capel needs 6-8 sophomore Karim Coulibaly to occupy Brooks and Walker in the paint. Coulibaly has scored 15 points and gathered 10 rebounds in his last two games while making 6-of-10 field goals.

Winner: Miami (+3) 65, Pitt 61

The Bets
Miami Hurricanes +3
-110
Miami Hurricanes
+130
UNDER 136
-108
Sub Categories:
Kenneth Cross / Author

Kenneth Cross is a new entry to The Sports Geek staff as he has 25 years of experience in print, broadcast, and internet sports journalism. Cross is a lover of all sports, but college basketball is his passion. He estimates that he has seen around 1,500 college basketball games - live and in-person - and hopes that grows this season. If you listen to Radio, you have likely heard him on Sundays covering the Carolina Panthers for some 20 years. Now in Tampa Bay, he works as a national radio correspondent.