- Who: LMU Lions (6-2) @ Pittsburgh Panthers (8-0)
- Where: Petersen Events Center; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- When: Friday night, 7 PM Eastern Time
- TV: ESPN3
- Radio: KXLU 88.9
After the Lions’ too-close-for-comfort win last Monday night over UC Riverside, the Loyola Marymount Men’s Basketball Team is headed to the penultimate game in this month-long trip away from Gersten Pavilion. The undefeated Pittsburgh Panthers will play host to LMU tomorrow in a matchup of similar offensive styles and even statistics.
LMU is at a disadvantage right off the bat by playing in the Petersen Events Center, a home court for Pitt that is nearly unmatched in the college basketball world. The arena opened in 2002, and since then, the Panthers have lost only THREE home non-conference games in that time. THREE. Not only is Pittsburgh a tough team itself, full of quality big men, but one key element Pitt possesses that makes Jamie Dixon’s squad so tough is The Pete. Not many others like it in the NCAA.
Pittsburgh is, without a doubt, the toughest team that LMU has played all season, and is arguably the toughest game they WILL play all season (depending on how you view Gonzaga). They’re so successful because they possess a key scoring trio, quite similar to what LMU has going. Pitt is quite dependent on forwards Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna, and guard Cameron Wright. All three of them average over 11 points per game, which is eerily similar, yet still not as good as LMU. LMU has 4 scorers who average over 10 points per game, and they’re guards Anthony Ireland and Evan Payne, a strong back-court duo, and forwards Ben Dickinson and Gabe Levin, both of whom possess size and strong shooting.
Having watched Pitt play some this season, I’ve noticed that their defense is superb. PittsburghPanthers.com has an impressive stat regarding their defense:
Defensively, Pitt is holding its opponents to 59.4 points per game and yielding a 39.7 percent (163-411) field goal percentage. All eight Pitt opponents have been held to 70 points or less.
LMU’s defense hasn’t been nearly as successful at preventing high shooting percentages against opponents, but they’ve done a great job of turning over opponents and capitalizing on the opposition’s mistakes, averaging 7.5 steals per game and almost 15 turnovers per game for their opponents. Pitt is a bit stingier with the ball than other LMU opponents, so it’ll be interesting to see how efficient LMU is at turning them over. I still think that LMU’s quickness will get the better of Pitt though, and that Ireland and Payne will get many transition points in what is sure to be a fast-paced game.
Prediction: Pitt 83, LMU 71
Yes, I unfortunately think LMU will lose tomorrow night. Pitt is an ACC club with ACC talent that has a home court advantage like none other. LMU will have to be very efficient shooting tomorrow night if they are to win, as they most certainly can’t win by shooting 38% from the field as they did Monday. Pitt is not UC Riverside and will capitalize on the mistakes that LMU makes, which is why I think they have the sizable edge over the Lions tomorrow night.