In the new book “The Ultimate Book of March Madness”, author Tom Hager chronicles the stories of each NCAA champion since 1939 and has another section on the top 100 NCAA tournament games in NCAA tournament history.
Pitt is nowhere to be found in the book. West Virginia makes five appearances in the top 100 games. The 2005 WVU team makes the list twice. The first game against Creighton is No. 89, a 63-61 WVU victory. The second-round game vs. Wake Forest is at No. 72 on the list, a 111-105 WVU win. The 1998 game vs. Cincinnati checks in at No. 73, a 75-74 WVU win. The highest-ranked games were losses for the Mountaineers. The 2006 game vs. Texas is No. 26. That was a 74-71 loss. And the 1959 Final Four loss to California is No. 22, a 71-70 setback.
As one might expect, the author’s top 100 games include many upsets. Pitt has not been involved in many upsets either way in the NCAA tournament. The Panthers haven’t been seeded low enough to pull off any, and they have done a good job of not losing to lower-seeded teams when they are a high seed.
Here are my suggestions for a few that maybe should have been included:
*The second-round loss to Butler in 2011. That was a back-and-forth game with a crazy ending and it was an important step for the Bulldogs in getting back to the title game for a second consecutive year.
*The loss to Vanderbilt in 1988. Barry Goheen remains a March hero for his long-distance heave the topped the second-seeded Panthers.
*The Elite Eight loss to Villanova in 2009. Another great back-and-forth game with a terrific ending. Well, at least for ‘Nova fans.
*If I had to pick out a Pitt victory, how about the Sweet 16 victory over Xavier in 2009. Levance Fields was superb at the end and hit a clutch 3-pointer in the final minute.
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