Jimmy V Classic

Pitt dominates N.C. State on the road in their ACC opener

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Lamar Patterson scored 17 of his 22 points in the second half and added eight boards, six assists and two steals as Pitt went into Raleigh and knocked off N.C. State 74-62.

It was an impressive way for the Panthers to kick off their ACC tenure, but the score doesn’t tell you the full extent of the domination shown by Jamie Dixon’s team. N.C. State was up 17-2 before the Panthers woke up. Over the final 35 minutes of the game, the Panthers outscored the Wolfpack 72-45.

That’s a nice road win to start the year, but the news gets better for Pitt.

Remember back in the Jimmy V Classic when we all bemoaned the fact that the Panthers, who had played a weak non-conference schedule to date, had lost to Cincinnati? That the lasting memory that we would have of this team was losing the one time they were actually challenged outside of the league?

Well, that loss doesn’t look quite as bad now. Cincinnati went into Memphis and pasted the No. 18 Tigers, 69-53, in their American opener.

So what, if anything, does this tell us about Pitt?

Well, not all that much. N.C. State is probably not a tournament team this season. There is some talent on that roster — their freshman class of Cat Barber, Kyle Washington and BeeJay Anya is promising — but this team is still a year or two away from really competing. The Panthers probably should win games in Raleigh.

But keep in mind: the ACC is wide open this year. Syracuse has been the most impressive in the conference, but they are by no means unbeatable. UNC and Duke have talent but haven’t exactly been consistent. Beyond that, there are probably six teams that can finish in fourth place in the league, and the Panthers are very much a part of that group.

We can crack plenty of jokes about their schedule because they deserve it, but for my money, Pitt is still one of the top 25 teams in the country.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: