After a down year last season and not yet being ranked in the Top 25 this season, the Pittsburgh Panthers could be a sleeping power in the Big East. Syracuse, Louisville, Cincinnati, Georgetown and Notre Dame expected to compete, Pitt will find themselves in the mix by season's end.
Point guard Tray Woodall is one of the more underrated lead guards in the country, not just the conference; the tough-nosed, undersized senior is averaging a team best 14.1 points and 5.5 assists per game, posting a stellar ratio of 3.2-to-1 assist-to-turnover figure. Little-heralded freshman guard James Robinson has a similarly-exceptional assist-to-turnover of 5.2-to-1 and it's this production out of the shooting guard spot, that has Pitt excelling on offense. Last season, the offense was too stagnant with Tray Woodall out due to injury and Ashton Gibbs better suited to playing off the ball. And Central Michigan-transfer Trey Zeigler has yet to pack on his scoring punch coming off the bench for the Panthers.
And on the defensive end, Pittsburgh may have the best frontcourt rotation of forwards from the athletic prowess of Talib Zanna and toughness of Steven Adams, J.J. Moore and Dante Taylor. The group of four is versatile and athletic enough to defend perimeter 4s and get in the passing lanes or establish a presence in the paint, blocking and altering shots at the rim.
For continued success in conference play, Pitt needs to run their efficient offense to perfection. Right now, they are ranked 4th in overall offensive efficiency, 5th in turnover percentage and 16th in field-goal percentage.