Despite its loss at Louisville Monday night, Pitt is exactly where it needs to be in terms of positioning for an NCAA tournament berth. The Panthers are 5-4 at the midway point of the Big East schedule and the same record in the second half of the season would give them a 10-8 regular season in one of the toughest, if not the toughest, conference in the country.
A winning record in Big East games would almost assuredly land the Panthers in the 68-team field for the NCAA tournament.
If the Panthers merely win the games they’re supposed to win they’ll be able to get to get to those 10 wins. That would entail beating Seton Hall, Notre Dame, USF and Villanova at home and winning the final game of the regular season at DePaul.
There are other ways to get to 10 of course, but the other games are much more difficult, beginning with Saturday’s home tilt against Syracuse. The other games are at Cincinnati, Marquette and St. John’s. Cincinnati and Marquette already beat the Panthers on their home floor this season, and the Panthers haven’t played well against St. John’s at Madison Square Garden in recent years.
A 9-9 Big East record could get Pitt into the dance, but the Panthers might have to pull an upset or two along the way (such as beating Syracuse) and perhaps win a game or two at the Big East tournament.
There are reasons to feel good about this team. The Panthers played a poor game Monday night and still had a chance to win on the road against the No. 12 team in the nation. They battle to stay in games against quality teams and have taken care of business against inferior ones.
The reasons to feel bad about this team are many of the same ones that were in vogue a month ago – poor perimeter defense and stagnant half-court offense against good defensive teams. The only issue the Panthers seem to have fixed is rebounding and it remains debatable whether they’re a good rebounding team, or simply one that takes advantage of poor rebounding teams. There is a big difference.
|< Prev||Next >|