The Pitt men’s basketball program released its non-conference schedule for the upcoming 2021-22 season. The team will embark on an 11 game slate, before going into a grueling 20-game campaign in the ACC.
It will be the fourth season the Panthers will be led by head coach Jeff Capel. The team is coming off of a 10-12 campaign a season ago, and will be looking to replace four starters from that team, including Justin Champagnie a first-team All-ACC pick that opted to leave for the NBA after his sophomore season.
“Our non-conference schedule is really going to help us prepare for the challenges of our 20-game ACC schedule,” said head coach Jeff Capel in a statement. “Matchups against some traditional rivals like West Virginia and St. John’s should excite our fan base but I also think the rest of our schedule will be intriguing as we look to establish our playing style and identity with this team. I have been pleased throughout the offseason with what I have seen from this group and am eager to get back in the gym with them.”
The Panthers will begin the season with an exhibition meeting against Division-2 Gannon University from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference on November 1st. The regular season opens with a game against The Citadel on November 9th, one of nine non-conference games to be held at the Petersen Events Center this season.
Capel’s team will have perhaps its toughest challenge of the non-conference slate in the second game of the season, as Pitt makes the short trip to Morgantown to take on Bob Huggins and West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl. West Virginia is coming off a 19-10 season, and made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Under Huggins’ guidance the Mountaineers have made the tournament ten times since he took over back in 2007. Pitt has lost the last four meeting to West Virginia and its last win came back in 2012.
Pitt returns to Pittsburgh for five straight home games to close out the month of November, with two of those games being against power-five competition. The Panthers are set to welcome Vanderbilt on November 24th as a part of a home and home series with the Commodores out of the SEC as Pitt will travel to Nashville next season.
Minnesota will come to Pittsburgh on November 30th as a part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Panthers are 2-1 in the challenge under Capel, including a dramatic come from behind win last season at Northwestern.
Pitt then has over a week off before taking on Colgate on December 9th. The Raiders made the NCAA Tournament a season ago, and are led by Pittsburgh area standout Nelly Cummings. The Panthers will also take on Monmouth on December 12th before it’s second trip outside of the city for the season.
Pitt will take on old Big East foe St. John’s at Madison Square Garden on December 18th. The Red Storm lead the overall series 34-24, but in Pitt’s final years in the Big East the Panthers owned the series with an 8-2 record in the past ten meetings.
St. John’s is of course led by All-Big East forward, Julian Champagnie, the brother of Justin.
Pitt will close out the non-conference portion of the schedule against Jacksonville on December 21st before breaking for a few days over Christmas and starting up ACC play.