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ACC Roundup - Capel’s Remarkable Turnaround Job At Pitt

Jeff Capel is showing real coaching brilliance

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Pittsburgh basketball
Spirits are high at Pitt again.
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

It’s still early but if the ACC Coach Of The Year vote were held today, who else could it be other than Pitt’s Jeff Capel?

Seven games in and Capel’s Panthers are one point away from being 8-0 - this from a team that won just eight games all of last season and none after December 30th.

That’s a long, lonely winter of basketball.

Pitt rolled again, this time beating neighbor Duquesne - we didn't realize the schools were just two miles apart -that’s walking distance which is a lot closer than Duke and UNC obviously (biking distance if you’re crazy enough to try it with Triangle traffic being what it has become).

It’s not a big surprise that Pitt won - Duquesne has lost 17 of the last 18 matchups and Norm Nixon, who went on to a tremendous Lakers career, is a distant memory who is nearing social security eligibility.

Capel credited defense and Pitt forced 22 turnovers, out rebounded Duquesne by 11 and held the Dukes to 33.3% overall and 20.8% from deep.

Look at it this way: Pitt got Duquesne to miss 38 shots, rebounded 27 of those misses and took the ball away 22 times. That’s an awful lot to overcome. Basically you just have to do it on defense because you can’t win with that level of offensive struggle.

Pitt’s schedule until the ACC season starts is pretty favorable: Niagara, West Virginia, UMES, New Orleans and Colgate before hosting UNC.

If Pitt manages to beat West Virginia at West Virginia, and wins the games they should win, they have a chance at entering ACC play at 12-1 and as a ranked team.

Saturday is an unusual and possibly unprecedented day in NCAA basketball as Jim Boeheim will coach Buddy Boeheim against Cornell and Jimmy Boeheim.

Syracuse will almost certainly win but the emotions in this game could be weird and with emotion, weird things can happen.

Georgia Tech has a chance to beat a solid St. John’s team in Miami. Can the Yellow Jackets capitalize? We’ll see. Based on what we’ve seen so far we’d guess not.

NC State is in the same event and will play an improving Vanderbilt. Darius Garland won’t play for the Commodores as he’s out for the year with a knee injury but fellow 5-star freshman recruit Simi Shittu will. Should be an interesting game and an opportunity for State.

Miami is also in the same event - they’re hosting the awkwardly named Air Force Reserve Hoophall Miami Invitational - and will play Yale.

Louisville had a tremendous win against Michigan State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Seton Hall is not bad and it’s a road game so not an easy one for the Cards, a team still in transition to Chris Mack’s system.

Virginia Tech plays the Blue Devils - no, not ours, the ones from Central Connecticut. It should be an easy win for the Hokies.

Finally, Wake Forest, at 4-2, has a tough road game against Richmond. The Spiders are just 2-5 but traditionally give Wake fits and the Princeton offense is a challenge for any defense, but particularly for a young team that’s likely to rush shots anyway.

If Wake loses this one, the militant wing of the fan base may start buying bill board space again to call for the end of the Manning era just as it did at the end of Jeff Bzdelik’s reign in Winston-Salem.

St. John's vs. Georgia Tech 12:00 ESPNU
Louisville @ Seton Hall 12:00 Fox
Central Connecticut @ Virginia Tech 5:00 ACCNE
Vanderbilt vs. NC State 5:00 ESPN2
Stetson @ Duke 7:00 ESPN2
Wake Forest @ Richmond 7:30 Nope
Yale @ Miami 7:30 ESPN3
Cornell @ Syracuse 8:00 ESPNU
Friday's Results
  • Pitt 74 Duquesne 53

ACC Standings

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