First up this game is not an easy one to watch outside Pennsylvania and the Carolinas. The syndicated ACC Network is only showing up in a handful of markets on the weekdays (but at least Happy Valley gets to watch some good basketball). So the other viewing options are online at ESPN3.com or if you have the ESPN FullCourt package (hooray for a wife that forgot to cancel the package!).
It’s an 8 pm start, so that feels a little awkward.
As a brief aside, it sure seems like the early returns on ability to watch non-ESPN aired ACC games is inferior to the old Big East. Say what you will, and I know we have said plenty, but at least the Big East got their syndicated football and basketball games on wider reaching sports channels.
I’ve convinced myself that this is going to be a very tough game for Pitt. Clemson has only one inexplicable loss — at Auburn. After that, their other losses were to good teams like FSU and UMass and at Arkansas — which is one of those bad road/great home teams.
This game is important not only because it is a home game, but because this is part of the rough stretch in conference play.
That stretch starts Tuesday when the Panthers (16-2, 4-1) play host to Clemson (13-4, 4-1). The Tigers are tied with Pitt and Virginia (13-5, 4-1) for second place in the conference.
After that game, the Panthers will play a tough road game Saturday at Maryland (11-7, 3-2), a team picked by some to finish in the top six in the ACC and a team that has been much better at home than on the road.
The Panthers then come home for back-to-back home games against two teams that were among a short list of favorites coming into the season — Duke (Jan. 27) and Virginia (Feb. 2).
At that point, the Panthers will be halfway through their ACC schedule and will have a good idea of exactly where they stand in the conference.
Pitt is trying to bounce back after the tough loss in Syracuse. Saying all the right things about being disappointed and not happy with a respectable loss.
“We still lost,” Patterson said. “I know what this team is capable of. It really doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks. We should’ve won the game, I feel like.”
Where Syracuse (18-0, 5-0) moved into sole possession of first place in the ACC, No. 22 Pitt (16-2, 4-1) dropped into a three-way tie for second place with Virginia (13-5, 4-1) and Clemson (13-4, 4-1), which visits Petersen Events Center at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
The Panthers saw the Syracuse game only as a missed opportunity, one in which their porous free-throw shooting cost them the game. Pitt was 13 of 23 from the line (56.5 percent), its second-worst showing of the season.
“I don’t really think we’re into moral victories like that,” Pitt point guard James Robinson said. “We’ve just got to get ready for Clemson. We will have a chance to see (Syracuse) again (Feb. 12).
I’m not worried about how Pitt responds after the game. I just worry that they are going to find it a slog against a tough, defensive team and give in to some frustrations.