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2019-20 Pittsburgh men's basketball preview

Pittsburgh Panthers

2018-19 record: 14-19, 3-15 in the ACC

Head coach: Jeff Capel

Tenure at Pittsburgh: 2nd season

Career coaching record: 189-129

Home court: Petersen Events Center

Starters: G Xavier Johnson, G Trey McGowens, G Ryan Murphy, F Au'Diese Toney, C Terrell Brown

Bench: F Gerald Drumgoole Jr., F Kene Chukwuka, F Eric Hamilton

Overview: Capel's first season at the helm showed progress with the Panthers securing six more wins than the previous year and recording three ACC victories. Pittsburgh also put up a fight in its defeats with 10 of its 19 losses coming by 10 points or fewer. Although the Panthers lost their second leading scorer and best three-point shooter from last season in Jared Wilson-Frame, the trio of Xavier Johnson, Trey McGowens, Au'Diese Toney will look to take the next step together as sophomores and keep Pittsburgh in the middle of the pack of the ACC. Freshman Gerald Drumgoole Jr. is next in line to replace Wilson-Frame and should improve the team's defensive identity. 

Johnson will look to build on a strong freshman campaign after averaging 15.5 points on 35.2 percent shooting from deep, as well as posting over four assists per contest. McGowens is a defensive stalwart who contributes 1.9 steals per game, but needs to improve on his 32 percent shooting from deep. JUCO transfer Ryan Murphy will be relied upon to stretch the floor with the Panthers shooting just 33.1 percent from deep as a team last year. If a few more threes fall and Pittsburgh remains solid defensively, the team could find itself in the bubble conversation by adding six or seven more conference wins. 

One thing that needs to go right: Shooting from beyond the arc improves, and the Panthers are in the conversation for an at-large bid.

One thing that could go wrong: The expected jump is one season too early, and Pittsburgh remains a scrappy middle-to-bottom feeder in the ACC before becoming more relevant next year. 

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