Just for continuity’s sake let’s cover the Villanova game quickly here before moving on to the meaty bits.
Ortg: 109.1 Drtg: 90.9 eFG%: 45.1% FTR: 63.4 A/TO: 0.92 OR%: 45.8%
Typically I have a lot of respect for Jay Wright but I think that I may have lost just a little bit yesterday when he had his team attempt to turn back the clock to the 1950s. I’m not talking merely about the “burn” offense, which at this point is nearly ubiquitous for any team that is playing the Panthers at the Pete, but also about the defensive end where Villanova’s strategy seemed to be to foul the Panthers as much as they could possibly get away with and then some. It didn’t work at all on the offensive end for the Cats and it only worked marginally well on the defensive end but it certainly made the game just an awful piece of business to watch if you didn’t happen to be a Pitt fan. That sort of thing is just bad PR when we are trying to fight certain stereotypes of “Pitt basketball” that ESPN goes out of their way to emphasize in order to fit the network’s “All Narrative, All of the Time” directive.
Raw Ortg: 116.0 (Nat’l Rank: 7th/Conf. Rank: 1st) Adj Ortg: 119.9 (4th/2nd) Drtg: 94.7 (41st/4th) Adj Drtg: 87.8 (10th/3rd)
eFG%: 52.5% (47th/5th) FTR: 43.7 (47th/4th) A/TO: 1.51 (5th/2nd) Ast%: 67.3% (3rd/1st) TO%: 18.0% (51st/5th) OR%: 42.9% (2nd/1st)
Those numbers, any way that you slice them, represent a pretty good season and the Panthers are one of three teams, along with Kansas and Duke, to finish in the top 10 in offense and in defense in my adjusted efficiency ratings. A large part of why Pitt is such a good offensive team (and yes, they are definitely still a good offensive team no matter what anyone would have you believe) is their performance in Dean Oliver’s Four Factors as the Panthers are strong across the board while being downright elite in the offensive rebounding category. While Pitt does have one occasional Achilles heel in the turnover department all of the rest of the important offensive stats are well into the green ink and the ball movement and offensive rebounding rank among the best of the best.
So now for the $64,000 question, is this team good enough to win the national title? In my mind the answer to that is a simple and unequivocal yes, as this year’s Panther team has hit every single one of the items on my preseason title contender checklist:
Finish top 5 in Ortg and top 10 in Drtg: Check (4th and 10th)
Finish 1st in Big East in conference efficiency margin: Check (1st at +.148 PPP)
Finish top 3 in the nation in any key statistic: Check (2nd in OR% and 3rd in Ast%)
Can the Panthers lose in March? Absolutely, in fact, even though that they hit every possible item on my checklist, we still have the odds against us for the national title in the same way that every other 1 seed has as well. But Pitt is in the discussion at least and a lock to receive a protected 1 seed and a good chance to win is really all that you can ask for.
– Every Panther took at least 15.0% of the shots when he was on the court. JJ Moore took the highest percentage at 27.9% and Lamar Patterson took the lowest at 15.3%.
– Four Panthers finished in the top 250 in the nation in individual offensive rating as Ashton Gibbs (124.4 – 39th), Gary McGhee (115.7 – 171st), Gilbert Brown (114.8 – 204th) and Brad Wanamaker (114.8 – 206th) all had excellent offensive seasons.
– Dante Taylor finished 10th in the nation (1st in the BE) in OR% at 16.3% and McGhee finished 63rd (5th in the BE) at 13.7%. Talib Zanna, if had qualified, would have finished 15th at 15.7%.
– Taylor and McGhee finished 1-2 in the Big East (5th and 23rd nationally) in floor percentage at 66.6% and 62.4% respectively.
– Wanamaker was the only major conference player in college basketball this season to assist on at least 30% of his team’s baskets and grab at least 10% of his team’s rebounds.
– Wanamaker also finished in the top 50 in the Big East in 47 different statistical categories.
– Gibbs finished 76th in the nation and 4th in the Big East in true shooting percentage at 62.2% as well as 13th in the nation and 1st in the Big East in 3pt% at 46.6%.
– Travon Woodall was 55th in the nation and 6th in the Big East in A/TO ratio at 2.3/1.
– Gibbs led the team and the Big East in +/- avg at +12.0 per game. Wanamaker was next at +10.2 (4th in BE) followed by Brown with +9.9 (5th), Nasir Robinson with +8.9 (10th), Woodall and Taylor with +6.8 (25th) and McGhee at +6.4 (34th).
– Woodall led the team in clutch +/- at +11, followed by Patterson with +7 and Brown and Taylor with +4. Woodall also led the team in clutch Roland Rating with +12 to finish ahead of Taylor’s +7 and Robinson’s +3.