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ACC Roundup - Panthers Are No Longer The Pits Of The ACC

Jeff Capel’s vision is coming into focus at Pitt

NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh at Duke
Jan 28, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Pitt Panthers head coach Jeff Capel reacts during the second half against the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils won 79-67. 
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s get something straight: winning ugly is still winning and winning is beautiful. Winning is even more beautiful if two years ago your program was 8-24 and seemingly falling apart.

Remember after Kevin Stallings was fired, almost every player was looking to transfer - and several did.

Jeff Capel had a tough year last year, with a 13-game losing streak and losing 14 of the last 16 games.

Still, despite being young and unsteady, his team played hard and competed, which was an improvement over the brief Stallings era. And this year, they’re winning, as they did Sunday over Miami.

Miami has issues, notably Chris Lykes being out with an injury, but they are usually a tough out.

It took Pitt until the end of the game to really wrap it up and it was largely due to Xavier Johnson, who was not shooting well early.

Down the stretch though he was clutch: he scored seven points in the last 2:25. Harlond Beverly scored a basket for the ‘Canes, and a couple of free throws, and Trey McGowans hit four of his own and ugly or not, Pitt won and is now in a five-way tie for sixth place in the ACC. The next four games are against Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Virginia Tech. Those are all winnable and if Pitt can do that, Capel’s bunch will sport an impressive 18-8 record overall and 9-6 in the ACC.

That’d be a heck of a turnaround potentially ACC Coach of The Year territory.

Only one game Sunday and one Monday, but Monday could be really interesting: UNC is visiting Florida State and like a lot of other ACC teams, after years of losses to UNC, one of the ACC’s and nation’s glamour programs, the Seminoles can take out their frustrations on the Tar Heels.

And they’re built to do it too. FSU is long, athletic and defends with passion. Things have changed and it would be a considerable upset if UNC beat Florida State in Tallahassee this year.