No. 21 Louisville bounced back nicely from Sunday’s loss at Clemson with a dominating 59-41 win over No. 20 Pitt at the KFC Yum! Center on Thursday night.
Chinanu Onuaku scored 18 points and added 10 boards and three blocks while Damion Lee snapped out of his slump with an 18-point performance of his own as the Cardinals locked down their best win of the season.
I’m not sure you can really argue that point, either. This is the first win that Louisville has landed over a ranked team, and their only win on the road came against an N.C. State team that can’t seem to beat anyone right now. The problem, however, is that Pitt, like Louisville, is a team whose record is built almost entirely on beating overmatched opponents. Yes, the Panthers won at Notre Dame — are the Irish really all that good this year? — and they beat Syracuse and Davidson, but the only two opponents that Pitt has played that can be considered likely NCAA tournament teams are Louisville and Purdue.
Purdue beat them by 13 in Pittsburgh. Louisville won by 18.
So while it’s hard to argue with the result, and the Cardinals were clearly the better team, I’m not sure this truly is anything more than Louisville winning another game against a team that they should be beating.
As far as Pitt is concerned, they were totally shut down by Louisville’s defense, which looked as good as it has all season long. The Cardinals — who entered the night ranked seventh in KenPom’s defensive efficiency ratings — held the Panthers to 28.6 percent shooting from the floor and forced 19 turnovers. I think Pitt is good, at least good enough that it’s not ludicrous to consider them for the Final Four. But they’re going to have to start racking up some quality wins if they’re going to parlay this gaudy record into an NCAA tournament bid.