What's Wrong with Pittsburgh?

What's Wrong with Pittsburgh?


You longtime readers know I follow Big East basketball very closely. I was born in New York, attended an Ivy League school, and earned my chops winning big money and a reputation in that neck of the woods before finally moving to Las Vegas many years ago.

That means, when something happens in the Big East, I'm all over it! I recognized the dramatic drop in play for the Pitt Panthers when they lost to Wagner a few weeks ago. I didn't say anything about it right away in a web article because I wanted to protect investment opportunities for my clients before the line adjusted. Pitt finally did cover a game this past Saturday at Marquette, possibly suggesting that the team has figured some things out and oddsmakers need to adjust back.

Or, maybe tonight's "Big Monday" showdown with #1 Syracuse is just going to start a new Panthers slump!

Here's a full rundown of Pittsburgh's recent woes:

  • Pittsburgh lost to Wagner 59-54. Wagner isn't an official board team in Las Vegas or offshore. The "outlaw" lines had Pittsburgh favored by 13 points here...which is a fairly high number for a game that wasn't likely to have much tempo. A humiliating loss for a Big East team that was expecting to coast to a Big Dance invitiation.

  • Pittsburgh (-3) lost at Notre Dame 72-59. You may have watched this game on TV. Many Vegas bettors were expecting a huge bounce back for Pitt here off the Wagner loss. Notre Dame isn't anything special this year. Pittsburgh was positioned to get their ship back on track with a big conference win. Instead, they lost outright by double digits as a favorite.

  • Pittsburgh (-6) lost to Cincinnati 66-63. You can already see some line adjustment, because Pittsburgh would normally be bigger chalk than that at home against somebody like Cincinnati. But, they still couldn't even win the game straight up let alone cover the spread.

  • Pittsburgh (-5) lost at DePaul 84-81. What a horrible defensive effort. How could anyone allow DePaul to score that many points?! This was a sign that the team had stopped even trying to defend. They play a slow tempo to begin with, which creates illusions about their defense. Allowing 72 points to Notre Dame isn't good in a slow game. Allowing 84 points to DePaul is ridiculous.

  • Pittsburgh (-9) lost to Rutgers 62-39. This tells you how bad Rutgers was this year...even with Pittsburgh in the midst of a horrible slump that had evidence that they weren't even trying any more...the Panthers were still nine-point home favorites over Rutgers! Instead, they hit rock bottom. Pitt lost by 23 points, and failed to hit lowered Vegas expectations by 32 points.

We now had a two-game sequence where:
Pitt allowed 84 points to DePaul
Pitt scored 39 points against Rutgers

It didn't get a lot of press coverage because ESPN was so focused on the college football bowls, and then the NFL playoffs. And, because ESPN would rather spend 12 hours hyping something than 15 minutes talking about a team's collapse. It was impossible to miss for anyone now. Pitt looked like they had thrown in the towel on the season.

The good news is that the Panthers did seem to come together as a team and regroup for this past Saturday's competitive 62-57 loss at Marquette. Pitt covered as 9-point underdogs. They weren't great defensively, but they did force 15 turnovers and they battled hard on the boards. There were at least some signs that the Panthers could cover some spread even if they're not coming all the way back to respectability this year.

The problems as I see them right now:

  • Too many turnovers on offense (17 even when they covered at Marquette), which is a sign of selfish play or poor thinking.

  • Very poor rotations on defense. Once you adjust for Pitt's slow tempo, this is actually a poor defensive team right now. They rank 218th in field goal percentage allowed, and 228th in three-point percentage allowed.

  • An overall attitude of selfishness where players want to do everything themselves on offense, and don't want to help each other on defense.

As you watch Pitt-Syracuse tonight on ESPN, be sure you pay special attention to those areas. If the team can't work for good shots, and is rotating slowly on defense, you can keep them on your "go against" list for the time being. If they show signs of life, you may find value betting them before the line catches up to what their fans hope will be a new attitude.

I may or may not be playing Pittsburgh-Syracuse for my clients Monday. You'll have to sign up to find out! Just make sure you get all of your ducks in a row EARLY because of the holiday. We have seven day games in the NBA, and a few more on the college board. Treat this like a Sunday instead of a Monday and have that credit card out early.

Or, call my call my handicapping office at 1-877-766-8946. We can talk about seasonal packages for basketball and the rest of the NFL Playoffs.

I started out in this business as a bettor who ruled the East Coast. But, now I'm THE KING OF LAS VEGAS...which means that I rule the entire sports wagering world! Whether you're trying to beat the Big East, the Big 12, or any other BIG GAME, be sure you go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!


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