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Next Up - Pitt

Time: 4:00 || Venue: Cameron Indoor Stadium || Video: ACCNE

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NCAA Basketball: Duke at Miami
Jan 15, 2018; Coral Gables, FL, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Grayson Allen (3) is pressured by Miami Hurricanes guard Chris Lykes (2) during the first half at Watsco Center.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Next up for Duke is a rematch with Pitt and after a 35 point win up there by Duke, it’s hard to make a case for Pitt to win in Cameron. Hard but not impossible.

The first element of a Pitt upset - of almost any upset really - is the cooperation of the favored team. If Duke comes in to this one expecting to win and expecting Pitt to roll over they’ll be in trouble.

The second thing that could theoretically work in Pitt’s favor is Duke’s youth. The team is improving fast but the four freshmen are still freshmen.

Foul trouble could play a role as well. Wendell Carter and Trevon Duval have both had issues periodically with that. We haven’t heard yet whether either Marques Bolden (knee) or Javin DeLaurier (hamstring) will be back for Pitt and that could hurt in there’s too many whistles.

And keep in mind that as the season has unfolded, Pitt’s Parker Stewart has gotten better and better offensively and hit seven threes last time out against Syracuse. One guy can go nuts and lift his whole team. We’ve seen it before in Cameron: Sam Clancy, Rodney Rogers and Len Bias come to mind as guys who had monster games and put their teams in position to win. Sam Clancy was the most interesting in many ways. At 6-6 and thick as the Great Wall, Clancy, who went on to a long and successful NFL career, battered the much taller Mike Gminski and led his team to a massive upset in Cameron.

Who did he play for? Uh...Pitt, come to think of it. Pre-ACC Pitt.

Fun bit of trivia: Clancy named his kids Sam, Samirio and...Samantha.

Unquestionably though Pitt faces more challenges Saturday than does Duke. The Panthers are 0-6 in ACC play and the losses are coming by an average of 19.8 ppg. The closest losses were by 14 three separate times (however Pitt did give West Virginia a nine-point game which is impressive).

The Panthers lack their best front court player, 6-9 senior Ryan Luther, out for the year with an injury. And while Stewart is putting up 12.3 ppg in conference play, the only other guy averaging double figures is Jared Wilson-Frame, who is averaging 12.5 ppg. However in conference play his accuracy has come down sharply and his three point percentage has fallen roughly in half (from 33.7% to 16.7%).

Marcus Carr is going to be a good point guard - he’s not bad now - but he’s not built to carry a team. He’s a point guard you plug in with an experienced group and find that he’s able to fit in nicely.

Pitt has to find a way to solve a number of problems defensively: Grayson Allen, Trevon Duval, Wendell Carter, Gary Trent and most of all Marvin Bagley.

This despite having a fairly short roster.

Of course as we frequently point out, mismatches work both ways and it’s conceivable that Pitt could play their hearts out and force Duke to chase them around and wear Bagley and Carter down and hit a ton of threes, a shot Duke hasn’t defended well this season.

And if they did do that it would be the biggest upset of the season, bigger by far than what BC pulled off. BC has a tremendous and experienced backcourt where Pitt has a young and promising one.

Nothing much surprises us this year and we don’t think Pitt has to go 0-18 in conference play. That said, it’s really hard to make an argument for a team this young and with this many challenges beating Duke in Cameron.

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