With an eye on the future, Pitt basketball looks to its past to add more games to future schedules. On Thursday, Pitt announced two more matchups with West Virginia — extending the Backyard Brawl series through the 2022-23 season.
Going back to its start in 1904, Pitt and West Virginia have played against one another in basketball 187 times. Pitt has played West Virginia more than any other opponent in program history.
During the 2020-21 season, Pitt is set to travel to Morgantown, W.V., to face the Mountaineers, (Friday, Nov. 13,) in the final game of the original four-game Backyard Brawl.
For a period time, Pitt and West Virginia were conference foes in the Big East; however, with realignment, Pitt and WVU went several years without seeing one another on the floor: 2012 to 2017.
Since the series was renewed during the 2017-18 season, Pitt is winless; in each of the last two seasons, the Panthers have fallen by double-digit totals, too. Last season, Pitt couldn’t shake off a cold-shooting performance (30.9 eFG%) and lost at home to WVU. Oscar Tshiebwe led the Mountaineers with 20 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks.
According to a release from Pittsburgh, the Panthers will travel to the West Virginia Coliseum for a matchup during the 2021-22 season. For the 2022-23 season, the Panthers will host the Mountaineers at the Petersen Events Center in 2022-23. Game dates have yet to be determined.
“The Pitt-West Virginia rivalry is one of the best in the country,” said head coach Jeff Capel. “Backyard Brawl says all you need to know about the intensity and energy around these games. Coach Huggins is an outstanding coach and has built a terrific program in Morgantown. We look forward to continuing the rivalry and building on the great tradition of the Backyard Brawl.”
Pitt must deal will the departure of combo guard Trey McGowens, who transferred to Nebraska; however, the Panthers still return plenty of talent. Despite some inconsistencies, point guard Xavier Johnson is one of the most electric play-makers in the ACC (5.9 assists per 40 minutes); sophomore forward Justin Champagnie (3.1 percent block rate, 63 FG% at the rim) is one of the league’s more underrated NBA prospects. Au’Diese Toney is a solid 3-and-D forward, too.
Pitt's Justin Champagnie: 1 of 4 high-major players this season with 3% block, 2% steal, 100+ 3PA. Devin Vassell was 1 of the others, as was Clemson's Tevin Mack. Going back to 07-08 season, Champagnie 1 of 17 high-major rookies to hit those benchmarks (Tatum, Culver, Lydon, etc)
— Brian Geisinger (@bgeis_bird) May 20, 2020
Capel will also add a talented 2020 recruiting class to the mix, too, which is headlined by 4-star center John Hugley and 4-star power forward Williams Jeffress.
Jeffress joins 3-star power forward Noah Collier as an in-state addition for the Panthers. Along with Hugley, Jeffress and Collier, the Panthers also add 3-star center Max Amadasun, an intriguing defensive prospect, and combo guard Femi Odukale.
The 2020 matchup in the series offers a good bit of intrigue as well. Champagnie and Johnson, two of the ACC’s top draft prospects, will go against Tshiebwe and Miles “Deuce” McBride — two excellent defensive prospects.
West Virginia finished the 2019-20 season third nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom. McBridge, an in-your-jersey on-ball defender, and Tshiebwe, who also led the nation in offensive rebound rate (19 percent), return to ignite things on that end of the floor, again.
Pitt Basketball vs. West Virginia Series History
- All-Time Record: 88-99
- Home: 56-35
- At Petersen Events Center: 7-4
- Away: 30-62
- At WVU Coliseum: 10-26
- Neutral: 2-2