Pitt woke up this morning in a tie for seventh place in the Big East standings, but the coach of the team that resides in second place believes the Panthers are among the best, if not the best, team in the conference.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said as much after Pitt beat the No. 6 Orange, 65-55, Saturday afternoon at the Petersen Events Center.
“They’re the best team we’ve played, without question,” Boeheim said. “It’s not even close.”
The only team near the top of the standings Syracuse has not played is Marquette. The Orange beat Louisville and Cincinnati.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon hinted that he might be of a similar mindset.
“There’s such a fine line,” Dixon said. “[Syracuse] has lost three fewer games than we have. In everyone’s eyes, outside of coaches, there’s this huge difference. But we lost some close games and they won a number of close games. You can’t panic. Every game we lost was tight. That’s what it’s going to be.”
The fact that Pitt lost three close games early in the Big East schedule probably means the Panthers won’t be contending for a conference championship in their final season in the league, but they will have a big say in which team does.
Pitt gets rematches with first-place Marquette and third-place Cincinnati in the next two weeks, both on the road. And if the Panthers find ways to win both games they just might buck the odds and run the table to become a contender.
That wouldn’t surprise Boeheim.
“I think they’ll be difficult to beat the rest of the way,” he said. “I’d be surprised if they lose many games.”
How likely is it? You judge.
*Marquette plays at Louisville today and also has road games at Georgetown, Villanova and St. John’s and home games against Syracuse and Notre Dame.
*Syracuse also has a tough road. The Cuse has Notre Dame at home Monday night, road games at Connecticut, Marquette and Georgetown and a rematch vs. Louisville at home.
*Louisville and Cincinnati also have a tough schedule ahead.
It’s possible for Pitt, but the Panthers likely would have to win their final eight games to make it happen.
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