Pittsburgh vs. Northwestern Odds, Picks: Expect Low-Scoring Duel
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Pitt vs. Northwestern Odds
After falling just short of a last second victory over Auburn in the Riviera Cancún Challenge, the Northwestern Wildcats take on the Pittsburgh Panthers in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. The Tigers are the best team the Wildcats have played to date, and they slowed the game to their pace and held Auburn’s explosive offense in check.
Jeff Capel’s Pitt team has not fared well with top-100 KenPom teams. They are 4-3 on the season, but lost a tight one to VCU and struggled mightily in 20+ point losses to Michigan and West Virginia. Northwestern is more so under that sphere of competition, but the line to target here will be the total.
Northwestern and Pitt will be aligned with pace and defense. Pitt is a solid rebounding team and can limit Northwestern to only one shooting opportunity each time down the floor. Northwestern will do the same.
The Wildcats are top 10 in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. They defend both the arc and interior extremely well, and since Pitt is not an offensive juggernaut, they should do the same here.
The Panthers are amongst the cellar-dwellers of the ACC. They are lucky to be in a conference with Louisville and Florida State, who are having uncharacteristically horrid seasons. This team shoots a ton of threes, which is a strange decision considering how poorly they do so. On the season, Pitt ranks 34th in the NCAA in 3PA/FGA.
Additionally, 33.7% of their points have come from outside the arc, but they are shooting under 30% as a team, ranking 280th in the NCAA. This is not an efficient strategy.
The usual suspects for three-point attempts are Blake Hinson, Nelly Cummings, Nike Sibande and Greg Elliott. Each has at least 25 three-point attempts, but only Hinson is shooting above 30%. Unfortunately for the Panthers, Northwestern has some great perimeter defenders and is holding opponents to 26.3% from deep.
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Pitt ranks 54th in offensive rebounding, so the Wildcats should be cognizant of that, but Northwestern has held opponents to a 24.7% offensive rebounding clip. That will negate one of Pitt’s typical edges over an opponent.
That said, Northwestern isn’t too sharp on the offensive glass either, so don’t expect either team to have many put-back points in this matchup.
Northwestern has shown it can control the pace of the game. The Wildcats rank 303rd in Adjusted Tempo. They use up 18.5 seconds per possession on offense and force opponents to use around 17.4 seconds per possession on defense. Pitt is also holding opponents to nearly 18 seconds per possession on the defensive end.
The Wildcats don’t have much of an offense, either. They rank 151st in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, so this is primarily a defensive-oriented program. That’s yet another reason to look at an under in this game.
Building off of that, NU is forcing turnovers at a 24.2% rate. Pitt is awful in this regard, turning it over 21.1% of the time on offense (265th in NCAA). This is one concern for the under, but since Northwestern already slows the pace, the total should be fine.
Pitt does thrive scoring in the paint. The Panthers are shooting 54.4% on two-pointers, but Northwestern is holding opponents to 37.6% shooting inside the perimeter. Here is an example of the length from Chase Audige on the wing:
Chase Audige blocking master class 🥵
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) January 29, 2022
Northwestern, especially Boo Buie, Audige, Ty Berry and Robbie Beran, likes to throw up three pointers, but Pitt limits opponents to 30.1% shooting from behind the arc.
Pitt vs. Northwestern Betting Pick
The under in this game is alive because Pitt runs an offense that doesn’t fit the team, and Northwestern controls every game’s tempo. Since Northwestern has such a strong defense, and Pitt can crash the glass and defend the three, both teams will take a while to get going. Take this under from 126.5 and play it to 123.5.
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