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ACC Roundup - Pitt Breaks Through

And get a big win vs. Mississippi State

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Pittsburgh
Feb 25, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers head coach Jeff Capel reacts on the sidelines against the Syracuse Orange during the first half at the Petersen Events Center. 
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Before you think about Pitt’s win over Mississippi State Tuesday, consider this: the Panthers are on their third-string center.

John Hugley is home dealing with whatever he has to deal with (and entering his name into the transfer portal) and reed thin Federiko Federiko sat this one out due to a mild knee injury (easy to say when it’s not your knee of course).

So the Panthers had to turn to even thinner Guillermo Diaz Graham and his even skinnier brother Jorge as his limited backup. If they keep this up pretty soon you won’t be able to see the big men when they turn sideways.

Pitt had a tight game but pulled ahead 58-52 with 3:13 left which was a bit of a cushion but almost not enough.

Tolu Smith got a dunk with 2:03 left then DJ Jeffries hit a three with 1:31 to go to cut the lead to 58-57.

Then Smith got a layup with :38 left to push Mississippi State up 59-58.

Finally Jamarius Burton scored for Pitt to put the Panthers up 60-59 with :14 to go.

Then it was Guillermo time.

He had gotten one block already with 1:31 left and this time, with :03 left, Diaz Graham blocked another attempt by Smith

Shakeel Moore - if that name rings a bell, he started out at NC State - took a three, missed, and Jeffries had another last-gasp rebound and shot.

Fortunately for Pitt, he missed too.

So the Panthers advance and will play Iowa State. The Cyclones are arguably better but they’ve been erratic, so it’s doable.

Closer to home, we’d like to extend a hearty thank you to UNC fans. Why?

Because some Heels fans on Twitter have turned on Caleb Love to the point where he restricted his Twitter.

Is it shameful? Sure is. But it helps remind Duke fans of how very different the fan bases are. It gives us (another) good example of how not to behave.

Georgia Tech introduced Damon Stoudamire as its new coach Tuesday. He has always struck us as a reserved kind of a guy but not Tuesday, as he was overcome by emotion. He more or less broke down and, when he could continue, talked about the potential at Georgia Tech, the glory years that Bobby Cremins brought, and getting back to that.

It was a sweet kind of way to get started. Who couldn’t love someone who gets that excited about taking what - lately - has been a mediocre job?

But he’s right. Things can be a whole lot better.

Notre Dame has no coach yet but it’s cut down the candidate list apparently. Pete Thamel listed the top four candidates as Micah Shrewsberry (Penn State), Chris Holtmann (Ohio State), Matt Langel (Colgate) and Darian DeVries (Drake).

Now, it looks like the Irish eyes are smiling most fondly at Holtmann and we think that’d be a great hire.

Yes he struggled at OSU this year but Holtmann is an outstanding coach and from all reports a good man.

If he takes the job, the first thing he’ll need to do is to get some players as three entered the portal right away including star freshman JJ Starling, who is heading home to Syracuse. Also with one foot out the door: promising freshman Dom Campbell and oft-injured Robby Carmody. That puts the Irish down to about five players, so whoever gets the job is going to have his work cut out for him. But in the age of the portal, things can change quickly.