Pitt’s 2016-17 non-conference schedule features 2K Classic appearance


PITTSBURGH — Pitt basketball coach Kevin Stallings announced the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball team’s 2016-17 non-conference schedule Tuesday. The Panthers’ non-conference schedule features matchups with five teams that played in the postseason a year ago as well as potential games against Marquette, Michigan and SMU as part of the 2K Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project.

“We have a strong schedule for the 2016-17 season with non-conference matchups that will help prepare us for an extremely difficult ACC schedule,” said Stallings. “We are also playing some marquee games against regional rivals and will continue to look to add games of that stature in the future with a focus on bringing them to the Petersen Events Center.”

Pitt opens the season with four games in the 22nd annual 2K Classic with opponents for the event being announced at a later date as part of ESPN’s bracket unveiling show. The Panthers’ season opener takes place Friday, Nov. 11 at the Petersen Events Center with the second game of the 2K Classic on Monday, Nov. 14. Pitt, along with Marquette, Michigan and SMU, will compete in the 2K Classic Championship Rounds presented by Continental Tire on Nov. 17-18 at Madison Square Garden.

Stallings’ group returns to the Petersen Events Center for home contests against 2016 NCAA Tournament qualifier Yale (Nov. 22) and Morehead State (Nov. 25) before traveling to College Park, Md., for an ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup with Maryland (Nov. 29) to close out the first month of the season.

The annual City Game with cross-town foe Duquesne is slated for Dec. 2 at CONSOL Energy Center. Pitt has won 15 straight games and leads the all-time series 53-31. The Panthers host Buffalo on Dec. 7 before traveling to Newark, N.J., to face in-state rival Penn State in the Never Forget Tribute Classic. Notre Dame and Villanova will square off in the first game of the event at the Prudential Center.

Pitt concludes its non-conference schedule with home games against Rice (Dec. 17), Omaha (Dec. 21) and Marshall (Dec. 28) before entering ACC play.

In addition to a competitive non-conference slate, Pitt faces a loaded schedule in ACC play with 12 games against 2016 postseason qualifiers. The Panthers face Louisville, North Carolina, Syracuse and Virginia twice apiece next season to go along with home games against Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech. Pitt also makes trips to Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, NC State and Wake Forest as part of its road schedule.

“Anytime you are playing an ACC schedule and in a high-level event like the 2K Classic you will have a schedule that will challenge and excite your players and your fan base,” Stallings added.

Pitt will also host Pitt-Johnstown in an exhibition game on Nov. 5 at the Petersen Events Center. Game time will be determined at a later date.


Schedule Notes (excludes 2K Classic pairings that will be announced at a later date)

  • Seven of Pitt’s nine non-conference games are against teams that finished in the top 150 of the RPI last season.
  • 23 of Pitt’s 27 games are against teams that finished in the top 150 of the RPI last season, including nine games against teams that finished in the top 25.
  • 17 of Pitt’s 27 games currently scheduled are against teams that reached postseason play in 2016, including 11 contests against NCAA Tournament teams.
  • The average RPI of Pitt’s opponents on the current 27-game schedule is 78.29.


Non-Conference Opponent Capsules

2K Classic [Nov. 11, Nov. 14, Nov. 17-18] – Pitt is playing in the 2K Classic for the first time in the 22-year history of the event … matchups for the event will be announced on ESPN’s bracket unveiling show in late July or early August … Pitt will host two home games in the opening round of the tournament before advancing to the championship rounds at Madison Square Garden Nov. 17-18 … the Panthers will be joined in New York by Marquette, Michigan and SMU. The complete 2K Classic field consists of Pitt, Eastern Michigan, Gardner-Webb, Howard, IUPUI, Marquette, Michigan and SMU.

Yale [Nov. 22] – The Bulldogs are coming off a 23-7 season, including a 13-1 mark in the Ivy League and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.  The Bulldogs picked up their first tournament win in school history with a 79-75 win over Baylor in the first round before falling to Duke in the round of 32. The Bulldogs, coached by James Jones, return several key contributors including all-league guard Makai Mason (16.0 ppg., 3.8 apg.). Pitt is 4-2 all-time against Yale with the last meeting occurring Jan. 2, 1956.

Morehead State [Nov. 25] – The Eagles completed the 2015-2016 season 23-14 with an 11-5 ledger in the Ohio Valley Conference. Morehead State reached the finals of the CBI, winning game one of the best-of three series before losing the next two to Nevada. The Eagles, coached by former Kentucky guard Sean Woods, are expected to return three of their top five players from a year ago in Corban Collins (11.0 ppg.), Xavier Moon (10.2 ppg.) and DeJuan Marrero (8.2 ppg., 7.2 rpg.). Pitt topped the Eagles 72-62 last season in the Gotham Classic as Jamel Artis and Michael Young combined for 42 points and 12 rebounds. Pitt leads the all-time series 2-0.

at Maryland (ACC – Big Ten Challenge) [Nov. 29] – The Terrapins went 27-9 with a 12-6 Big Ten conference mark last season and reached the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. Maryland returns several key contributors, including All-America candidate Melo Trimble (14.8 ppg., 4.9 apg.), and is likely to start the season ranked in the top 25 of the AP Poll. Pitt has won three straight meetings in the series but Maryland holds a 5-4 edge all-time against the Panthers.

vs. Duquesne (The City Game – CONSOL Energy Center) [Dec. 2] – The Dukes finished 17-17 with a 6-12 Atlantic 10 record a year ago. Duquesne earned a spot in the College Basketball Invitational, defeating Nebraska-Omaha in round one, before falling to Morehead State. The Dukes, led by fifth-year head coach Jim Ferry, return a pair of starters in Eric James (9.1 ppg.) and Darius Lewis (6.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg.). Pitt has won 15 straight in the series and is 53-31 all-time against the cross-town foe.

Buffalo [Dec. 7] – The Bulls finished the 2015-2016 season 20-15 and 10-8 in The Mid-American Conference. Buffalo went on to win three games to capture the MAC Tournament title and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. Buffalo’s season ended in the first round after a 79-72 loss to Miami (Fla). Head coach Nate Oats will look to build off a 20-win season during his second year as coach. The Bulls return four double-figure scorers in Lamonte Bearden (13.7 ppg.), Blake Hamilton (13.1 ppg.), Willie Conner (11.8 ppg.) and CJ Massinburg (11.3 ppg.). Pitt has won eight straight against Buffalo and is 8-1 all-time in the series.

vs. Penn State (Never Forget Tribute Classic – Prudential Center – Newark, N.J.) [Dec. 10] – Penn State returns several key contributors from a year ago, including double-figure scorer Shep Garner (14.8 ppg.), as the Nittany Lions finished 16-16 overall and 7-11 in the Big Ten. Head coach Patrick Chambers enters his sixth season at the helm of the Penn State program. Penn State leads the all-time series, 75-71, but Pitt has won the past six meetings and 11 of the past 14 games overall.  Pitt-Penn State will be the nightcap of the inaugural Never Forget Tribute Classic with 2016 NCAA Champion Villanova playing Notre Dame in the opening game. The event will partner with Familes of Freedom Scholarship Fund, which helps support the education of children of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Rice [Dec. 17] – Rice is coming off a 12-20 (7-11 Conference USA) season under head coach Mike Rhodes. The Owls return a bulk of their production from last season including sophomore Marcus Evans (21.4 ppg.), junior Egor Koulechov (16.7 ppg.) and sophomore Marquez Letcher-Ellis (10.2 ppg.). The contest will be the first meeting between the two schools.

Omaha [Dec. 21] – Omaha finished last season 18-14 overall and 10-6 in the Summit League to earn a spot in the College Basketball Invitational tournament. The Mavericks, coached by 10th year man Derrin Hansen, return a pair of starters in Tre’Shawn Thurman (13.9 ppg., 6.7 rpg.) and Tra-Deon Hollins (12.5 ppg., 4.8 rpg.). Pitt and Omaha will be meeting for the first time.

Marshall [Dec. 28] – The Thundering Herd went 17-16 overall and 12-6 in Conference USA a year ago under former NBA assistant and Marshall alum Dan D’Antoni. Marshall is expected to return four starters in Jon Elmore (15.2 ppg., 5.8 apg.), Ryan Taylor (14.2 ppg., 6.6 rpg.), Stevie Browning (12.8 ppg., 4.5 rpg.) and Austin Loop (9.4 ppg.). Pitt is 4-0 all-time against the Thundering Herd but the two schools have not played since the 1992-93 season.