No. 24 Pittsburgh is now 13-1, but the challenge amps up this weekend

James Robinson averages 10 points, but on Wednesday night he scores 18. (USATSI)

The good new for Pitt: The Panthers are off to another nice start, now at 13-1 following their Wednesday night home win over Georgia Tech. Pitt beat the Bees 89-84, the latest example of Jamie Dixon’s well-oiled offense coming through again. Pitt had just four turnovers, hit 25 of its 30 foul shots and put Georgia Tech on the line for half as many free throws.

This marks the 11th time in Dixon’s 13 seasons that Pitt will have won at least 13 of its first 16 games.

More good news for Pitt: Its sole loss came to a viable opponent. Back on Dec. 1, the Panthers were felled by Purdue. The Boilermakers have been a ranked team throughout the 2015-16 season, and to date hold a 13-2 record with respectable losses to Butler and Iowa. The loss did come on Pitt’s court.

The bad news for Pitt? Purdue is the only team ranked in the top 70 of KenPom this team has played. All other wins have come against average or worse teams, the best of them being a home victory against a 10-6 Syracuse team not coached by Jim Boeheim and against Davidson, which is now 8-4 but sporting one of the worst defenses Bob McKillop has put on a court in the past 15 years.

Despite a national ranking for in the AP poll this week, the Panthers have plenty of skeptics. Their schedule ranks 322nd, among the very worst for any team from a multibid conference that’s chasing comfortable at-large status. Dixon’s squad has work to do.

And now we’ll get a closer examination, as two road games against NCAA tournament-caliber enemies await. Saturday will see Pitt head to 9-4 Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish being an example of one of the most inconsistent talented teams in the nation. If Mike Brey’s team can’t win vs. Pitt, we’ll have a lot to take from that one for both programs. After that, Louisville welcomes in the Panthers next Thursday. Getting a split is a tough task, but if Pitt is as good as its 13-1 record, it will pull it off.


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