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Ryan Solomon named ACC Wrestler of the Week after upset of No. 3 Jacob Kasper

As I said in the recap of the Pitt-Duke dual, Ryan Solomon had a decent shot to take home ACC Wrestler of the Week honors after his upset win over No. 3 Jacob Kasper. Sure enough, Solomon had his name called on Tuesday for that award.

Pulling off the victory against Kasper was no small feat. He hadn't lost in 20 bouts and the loss to Solomon was only his second of the season. He's very much a national championship contender.

It was his second time securing the honor this year as he won it back near the start of the season as well. 133-pounder Dom Forys has also won it twice.

I'll be looking to see how this impacts his overall individual rankings as well. Solomon was already a top 20 guy and this should give him a nice bump.

The Panthers get a break this weekend and then will participate in the ACC Tournament the following weekend in Raleigh.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pitt-Wake Forest Q&A with Blogger So Dear

Had a chance to do a short Q&A with Robert Reinhard over at SB Nation's excellent Wake Forest site, Blogger So Dear. Be sure to check in on them leading into the Panthers' next game this week.

Check out his answers to my questions below and head over there to see my answers to his questions a bit later.

After a couple of down years at Wake Forest, Danny Manning seems to have righted the ship a little. Are fans enthusiastic about what he's done there so far?

I would say fans are overall pretty positive about Manning. He definitely has his flaws, but seems to be improving on them, and is doing a very nice job of building the program. The vast majority of the team will be returning next year (Collins certainly up in the air), and has an excellent recruit in Chaundee Brown joining the team next year. He inherited a bad situation from Jeff Bzdelik, but has bounced back well. I'm excited to watch his growth and have been pleasantly surprised with the performance so far this season.

Sophomore forward John Collins has been a handful all year but has even stepped it up lately with 60 points in the team's last two games against Clemson and Duke. What are the chances of him leaving early for the NBA either this year or next?

Unfortunately I think they are pretty high. I have seen him around 15th or 20th for this upcoming draft on most mock drafts. He is still young for his grade (just turned 19), so hopefully he will stay for one more year. Wake will be very good next year if he returns, but I believe it's likely that he's gone after this season. I'd say it's almost a guarantee that he leaves by the end of his junior season.

Even at 15-12 and however unlikely that it may be for Pitt, there's still talk about sneaking into the NCAAs since they have three wins over ranked teams and a few more opportunities. Wake has had some very close losses against ranked Duke, North Carolina, and Xavier teams. The team seems really close to being an NCAA Tournament caliber squad. Are there similar hopes for Wake or are fans mostly looking to next year in terms of reaching the Big Dance?

Wake fans still believe that it's possible this season. Though the team is just 15-12, the Deacs are currently 30th in Ken Pom, 32nd in BPI, and 37th in RPI. They've been extremely close in your aforementioned games, and have been unlucky because their games against teams around 25th overall have been on the road. That said, Wake definitely blew some opportunities by blowing late leads against Duke and Clemson. Still, Wake has a lot to play for with games remaining against Pitt, Louisville, and a road trip to Virginia Tech. If Wake can win two of those three, and then potentially an ACC Tournament game, then they are absolutely right there. It will be interesting to see how the committee weighs advanced metrics vs. win-loss record.

One of the stories of Pitt's season has been a continued decline in attendance. That's happened over the course of the past few years when Pitt hasn't been as successful on the court. Has Wake Forest seen increased fan interest with their play this season?

Wake has definitely seen an increase this year, as it's Wake's best team since at least the 2009-2010 season. In fact, Wake's game against Duke was the first sellout since that same season. Wake fans went through some very rough years when Jeff Bzdelik was the coach, so being in NCAA Tournament contention again is extremely refreshing.

How do you see this game playing out?

I like Wake Forest in this one. The Deacs are one of the better offensive teams in the country and think they should be able to score fairly easily against Pitt. Pitt has definitely been playing better as of late, but I like Wake's chances at home in a game they really need. Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Jose Canseco wants us all to know how robots will take over the world

Athletes seem to be taking up some odd stances lately.

If you thought Kyrie Irving's comments about the Earth being flat were out there, wait until you see what Jose Canseco has been tweeting today.

>> Read more trending stories

Canseco, a 52-year-old former Major League Baseball player who has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs while hitting 462 big-league home runs, apparently is a believer in the idea robots are going to take over the world.

He began sharing this belief around midday with the statement, "The robot threat is being taken to (sic) lightly."

The robot threat is being taken to lightly— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) February 20, 2017

Robots will not attack and kill us physically like in the movies— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) February 20, 2017

For 60 years Robots have been systematically destroying us in clandestine economy based war started when eniac was turned on— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) February 20, 2017

Already today a fully robotized factory reduces human jobs 90% and increases production 250% and reduces defects 80% while doubling profit— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) February 20, 2017

Robots control every industry our food supply our transportation systems our health care and education systems EVERYTHING— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) February 20, 2017

robots are stealing our jobs bringing economic ruin to us human by human starving us to death one by one— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) February 20, 2017

All that will be left is uber technical humans trained to service robots.— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) February 20, 2017

He continued with a warning that our machines will not conduct a violent overthrow but come to dominate us by taking over all aspects of our lives – something he points out has already begun happening.

This all seems a bit far-fetched but, hey, he was right about that whole steroids in MLB thing, so you never know.

We had a good run.

Panther of the Week: Sheldon Jeter

The streak of Mike Young and Jamel Artis is finally over as they move aside for Sheldon Jeter

Michael Young or Jamel Artis have won the Panther of the Week dating back to last season. This past week fellow senior Sheldon Jeter takes the award and ends the streak.

It wasn’t just Jeter, though, as Cam Johnson also had a solid week. But Jeter’s massive game against Florida State puts him over the top. I said it would either be a really good week or really bad week if Artis or Young were unseated. We had a mixed bag, but it was oh so close to being very good.

Pitt started the week with a bad loss to a very improved Virginia Tech team. Jeter had a very bad turnover late to help seal the loss but it still doesn’t take away from his solid game. Jeter finished with nine points and 10 rebounds, along with two assists, one steal, and two blocks. Cam Johnson finished three assists shy of a triple-double in the game, but it wasn’t enough.

Saturday saw a nice upset at home of top-25 ranked Florida State. The upset in front of the Zoo and the retro uniforms reminded us of better times with the program. Jeter definitely did his part. The Beaver Falls product scored a career high 29 points to go along with eight rebounds, one assist and one steal.

He started off the upset with a nice start before getting into foul trouble, although his second foul was questionable to say the least. The Panthers’ bench allowed Kevin Stallings to sit Jeter for a good while. The second half saw him pick up where he left off and down the stretch he seemed to be all over the floor. It was nice to see the senior playing up to his capabilities.

I think more than one person has said that Pitt would be a tough team to play if someone else steps up to go along with Artis and Young. This proves it. The truth is that for the better part of the last month, Pitt has been playing better and it’s mostly because of other players stepping up. In addition to Jeter and Cam, Rozelle Nix has provided some spark off the bench along with a few others. If they can continue to trend up, it could be a fun ACC Tournament, rather than a one and done with Ryan Luther scheduled to come back.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author@BrunoPittsburgh

Pitt baseball opens season with 3-1 start

Last week I wrote about the Pitt baseball team needing to step up a bit this season. While they aren't perfect, the team got off to a decent start winning three out of four games this past weekend.

Playing down in Kissimmee, FL, the Panthers defeated Delaware twice (5-3 and 3-2) and also knocked off defending Big Ten champ, Ohio State, winning 7-2. The lone loss came in a tough defeat when Pitt gave up a 4-3 lead in the ninth inning and loss to Kansas State.

Offensively, it was Alex Amos and Frank Maldonado leading the way. Amos is batting .417 to lead the team and Maldonado has a team-high six hits, is batting .353, and four of his six hits were doubles.

All four of Pitt's starters (Josh Mitchell, Josh Falk, Dan Hammer, and Matt Pidich) had solid outings. None has an ERA over 1.50 and all went at least six innings without giving up more than one earned run. It was the team's relief pitchers that ran into trouble. In only eight combined innings of work, the relievers gave up five earned runs and had the blown lead against Kansas State.

Pitt heads down to Vero Beach next weekend to play Siena three times.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Can the Panthers still reach the NCAA Tournament? Let's have a look.

At 15-12, many have written of Pitt as a contender for the NCAA Tournament. But the Panthers have also won three of their past four games and with a victory against No. 17 Florida State, have added another quality win to their resume.

Pitt senior Sheldon Jeter had a monster game with a career-best 29 in that 14-point win against the Seminoles. And according to him, the NIT isn't in the team's plans just yet.

"We're playing to get into the [NCAA] Tournament," Jeter said. "We still believe in each other and the team. It doesn't matter if other people don't believe in us. We believe in ourselves and we believe that we can still make it. We haven't given up hope, or said we'll go play in the NIT [Tournament]. We still believe we can get into the [NCAA] Tournament."

Sure, there's a hint of 'what do you want him to say' about that. And if he had said the team is just hoping to make the NIT, he would be killed for that. But it also serves as a reminder that the Panthers aren't yet completely out of things.

Make no mistake about it - the team needs a lot of help. Only four games remain and three of them are on the road. A fourth is against No. 10 North Carolina. In terms of 'gimmes', there really aren't any. And while the game at Wake Forest might be the most winnable, the Demon Deacons are 15-12 - the record same as Pitt.

As I said Saturday, I believe that the team probably needs some combination of at least five wins to have a shot at getting in. And to me, losing only once more might be the Panthers' only option. That would mean either running the table in these last four regular season games or winning at least three and then winning the NCAA Tournament. That last option seems the more difficult one because teams will be playing even harder to win the conference championship and improve their own resume.

If the Panthers lose two more games, can they get in with 14 losses? Historically, it's not likely but it has happened. Several at-large teams have made it with that many and at least two (Arizona in 2008 and Michigan in 2011, according to this site) even had 18-14 records. Pitt probably doesn't get in with only an 18-14 record but at least there's precedent there.

A somewhat realistic path for Pitt would be winning three of the next four games and then winning two more in the ACC Tournament. That gets them to 20-14 and since it would mean defeating either Virginia or North Carolina in the regular season, would give them at least one more high-quality win. 19-14 doesn't 100% mean they're out but you have to think their chances are significantly lower.

But even in the 14-loss scenario, there's also the idea that Pitt's resume isn't terribly strong. They haven't beaten a Top 5 team or anything. And while they have a few nice wins, it's not as if they've beaten great team after great team. They also have a terrible loss to Duquesne and while committee members may take into account that Jamel Artis didn't play, it's still a bad loss. They also have several head-to-head losses against teams like Virginia Tech, Miami, and Syracuse (with whom they split) that are all playing to get in as well. Also, we have to account for things like conference tournament upsets where some mid-major conferences steal an extra bid if a lower-ranked team wins their tournament, etc.

In other words, 13, not 14, might be the most acceptable number for the Panthers. And, of course, even that's no guarantee.

And don't even consider a 2-2 split in the regular season. That gives them 15 losses, looks incredibly damaging, and means that they need to win the ACC Tournament to get in.

A couple of Panthers, alluded to effort in the post-game press conference on Saturday. Jamel Artis was one of them. "We can play against any team in the ACC," the senior said. "It just depends on whether or not we show up to play that day." At this point, the Panthers don't have much room for margin and showing up to play is no longer an option.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

UNCC quarterback, brother of Panthers tight end, arrested on rape charges

University of North Carolina at Charlotte quarterback Kevin Olsen was arrested on rape charges Sunday, police said.

Kevin Olsen in jail, records show. Charges of 2nd degree forcible rape, cyberstalking, assault on female, 2nd degree force sex offense.— Blake Hanson (@BlakeWSOC9) February 20, 2017 <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

Olsen is the younger brother of Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen.

Kevin Olsen was arrested on charges of second-degree forcible rape, cyberstalking, assault on a female and second-degree forced sex.

The Charlotte 49ers were Olsen’s fourth team since September 2014.

>> Read more trending news

Out of high school in Wayne, New Jersey, Olsen committed to the Miami Hurricanes but left after being suspended from the team several times and failing a drug test.

Olsen never played at Miami after being charged with a DUI and possession of a fake or stolen ID in September 2014.

Olsen transferred to Towson, in Maryland, where he was kicked off the team in March 2015 for violating team rules.

Olsen played football in the fall of 2015 for Riverside California City College.

He played well there and signed with the Charlotte 49ers in December 2015.

Olsen won the 49ers' starting quarterback position last spring.

However, he appeared in just six games last season.

He lost his starting quarterback job halfway through the season.

UNCC Charlotte football coach, Brad Lambert, said he and the university are aware of his quarterback's Kevin Olsen's arrest.

UNCC released this statement:

The University administration has been in close communication with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department regarding its arrest of student-athlete Kevin Olsen Sunday afternoon.The allegations in this incident took place off campus. This incident occurred a week after a separate, unrelated case of alleged on-campus sexual assault involving acquaintances. Olsen has been suspended from Charlotte Athletics, and the University is reviewing the case consistent with its disciplinary procedures. Due to the ongoing CMPD investigation and federal protections on student information, the University will have no further comment on the investigation at this time.

DeMarcus Cousins reportedly traded to Pelicans in blockbuster deal

The Sacramento Kings' DeMarcus Cousins has reportedly been traded to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Buddy Hield and at least one first-round pick, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical:

Deal with the Pels includes guard Buddy Hield, and a 2017 first-round pick to the Kings for Cousins, league sources tell @TheVertical.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 20, 2017 <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

Sources: New Orleans is also sending the Kings a 2017 second-round pick (via Philadelphia) and Tyreke Evans in deal, league sources said.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 20, 2017 <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

Once again: BUDDY HIELD, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, one future first-round pick & one future second for DeMarcus Cousins, sources say— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 20, 2017 <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

>> Read more trending news

Cousins is arguably one of the top big men in the NBA today, and pairing him with Anthony Davis and standout guard Jrue Holiday makes a serious trio in New Orleans.

The move to trade Cousins comes on the heels of the Kings making public proclamations to keep the disgruntled center.

Here’s what Yahoo! reported led to eventually trading the center:

“Two incidents in particular – an expletive-laced remark Cousins made about Golden State after Sacramento’s overtime win over the Warriors on Feb. 6 and the astonishing 17th technical foul this season, and resulting one-game suspension, against New Orleans on Feb. 12 – have caused Ranadive to have serious concerns about tethering the franchise to Cousins long term.”

The Kings were at significant risk to lose a 2017 Top-10 protected pick to Chicago, and trade increases chances to hold onto it.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 20, 2017 <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

Whether Cousins remains in New Orleans following next season, the last on his current contract, remains to be seen.

No. 24 Pitt softball wins four straight games at ACC-Big Ten Challenge

Pitt's softball team got into the rankings for the first time in program history with a 5-0 start to the season this past week. This weekend, they picked up where they left off, winning four more games against Nebraska and Northwestern in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. That moves the Panthers up to 9-0 on the season and they'll likely be due for a bump in the rankings this week.

Pitt began the weekend taking both games from Nebraska in short order. They won the first game 9-1 and then took the second, 6-2. Again, pitching was the story as Kayla Harris didn't give up an earned run in the first contest and freshman Brittany Knight, the reigning ACC Pitcher of the Week, gave up only two earned runs in six innings of work.

The Panthers had a little more trouble with Northwestern but still managed to take both games. Pitt needed eight innings to pull out a 2-1 win on Saturday and on Sunday, the team looked ready for their first loss of the year, trailing 3-1 in the sixth (the final inning in softball) frame. But they weren't ready to quit and scored five runs in the inning to take a 6-3 lead and wound up winning 6-4. Pitt got more great pitching from their new rotation of Harris and Knight. Harris was flat out dominant in tossing a one-hitter in the first game against Northwestern and after Knight struggled a little in the second, Harris cleaned things up there, too.

Both Harris and Knight continue to have success. Knight did have some problems in her second game giving up three runs in 3 2/3 innings, but both are 9-0 on the year and both still have ERAs well under 2.00. And the offense has been more than capable so far, scoring at least five runs in seven of their nine games. The team hasn't gotten much power yet as they've hit only two home runs so far, but with pitching like this, I have a feeling they'll be in a lot of games.

Next up is a trip to the Troy Tournament next weekend where the Panthers will play five games against host Troy, Lipscomb, and Southeastern Louisiana. The following weekend, they'll get into ACC play with a series against North Carolina.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Pitt wrestling dominates in 28-9 win over Duke to finish regular season

Pitt's wrestling team concluded its 2016 regular season with an easy 28-9 win over Duke.

There weren't any announcers this week so it was a little more difficult to keep up with everything if you're not used to watching the sport. The P.A. guy would call out the scoring but he didn't update the scoring and it wasn't on the screen. Also sort of a problem was that both teams had dark singlets on so that didn't help terribly, either, when just glancing at the action if you aren't too familiar with the team.

Things started at 149 pounds this week with Mikey Racciato. Mikey's match, as they have been this year, was a really back and forth affair. At times he looked in control and others looked like would take a loss. He ended up prevailing 11-9, though, and the team got off to a good start.

Taleb Rahmani and Teshan Campbell both continued that hot start with two consecutive pins to give the Panthers a 15-0 start. Not sure I've seen that this year but either way, it's a rare occurrence. We all know Campbell, who is ranked No. 9, is a star. But as I keep saying week after week, Rahmani just continues to improve. He leads the team in pins and scored yet another one tonight.

Donovan McAfee was next up at 174 pounds, who dropped a pretty slow decision. Pitt continues to need more out of this weight class. At 184 pounds, Zach Bruce lost a tough bout in overtime and that made it a 15-6 team lead for Pitt.

Senior John Rizzo got things back on track with a pretty dominant win 5-0. He had his opponent down for most of, if not all, of the second period and quickly escaped when down to start the third. Mix in a couple of takedowns and some stalling calls on his opponent and it made for an easy win. His career has been a little up and down so it was great to see him get a shutout on Senior Day to put the Panthers up 18-6.

We got the highlight of the match with Ryan Solomon taking on No. 3 Jacob Kasper at heavyweight. Kasper hadn't lost in 20 bouts so to say he's good is an understatement. Solomon scored a takedown and after a pair of escapes by Kasper (out of that hold and then after starting down in the second period), Solomon scored a reversal and grabbed a 4-3 win. Solomon has spent most, if not all, of the year in the rankings and at No. 19 in the country is no slouch. But this was still a very big upset and will gain Solomon a ton of respect going forward. I don't know what else happened in conference, but an ACC Wrestler of the Week award seems possible. After that bout, Pitt was ahead 21-6 heading into the lower weight classes.

L.J. Bentley added a quality 3-1 victory and Dom Forys easily won 14-3, picking up a major decision. After a 6-1 loss by Nick Zanetta, the Panthers won 28-9.

All in all, it was a pretty topsy turvy year. The team was only 2-3 in the conference season but several guys have good momentum heading into the ACC Tournament. They finished the regular season 11-5 and now it's all about trying to win some individual ACC titles and seeding guys for the NCAAs.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

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