Back with a vengeance, here's our exclusive 8-bit preview of Marquette's next opponent, the Pitt Panthers.
(1) VITAL SCHEMATICS: A year after a near-disastrous (and still baffling) 22-17 season that saw the Panthers limp to a 5-13 record in the Big East, PITT sits 13-3 in 2012-'13, with a lofty ranking of 6 in KenPom but a less impressive RPI of 57. That latter number, as per usual, is due to PITT's anemic non-conference schedule, which featured games against luminaries such as Howard, Bethune Cookman, Delaware State, and Kennesaw State. (I will give you a Canadian dollar if you can tell me the mascots of any of those schools.) An 0-2 start in conference play had people wondering if the Panthers were doomed to repeat the mistakes of 2011-'12, but a 30-point seal-clubbing of Georgetown alleviated some of those concerns.
(2) PRIMARY WEAPON: ZANNA CANNON (damage rating: 9.0 out of 10): PITT does most of its damage inside, with the Panthers shooting an astounding 55.9% on two-point goals. The major reason for that success is 6'9" terror Talib Zanna, who boasts an offensive rating of 131.4 (MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS), good for 26th in the nation. But this isn't a one-man gang by any means: Pitt also features Dr. Tray Woodall (who should be getting his medical degree any semester now, since he's been in college for like 7 years), who's got an O-rating of 124.6, and swingmen JJ Moore and Lamar Patterson, who have O-ratings of 125.9 and 124.2, respectively.
(3) DEFENSIVE MATRIX: CAT SCRATCH FEVER (armor rating: 8.0 out of 10): PITT's backslide in 2011-'12 was due, in large part, to its shoddy defense, which plummeted to a KenPom ranking of 151 in the country. This year, PITT's returned to form, with a defense ranked 23rd overall by KenPom: they turn you over a ton (on 23.9% of opponent possessions), they don't let you hit the boards, they block a buttload of shots, and they don't foul a lot. OTHER THAN THAT, though, it's easy to score on them. (Note: they did give up like 40 points to Rutgers in a half, which is kinda wild because Rutgers.)
(4) EXPLOITABLE WEAKNESS(ES): Weapons and armor are better at home, ineffective in New Jersey. Play in New Jersey if at all possible.