Ray Fittipaldo: Welcome to the Pitt basketball chat. Post your questions and we can get started.
Robbie: What was the team's first reaction when they saw their bracket?
Ray Fittipaldo: It was quiet in the room where they watched the selection show. Not much of a reaction at all. There usually is some cheering and clapping, but that's when Pitt received higher seeds. Don't think a lot of people in that room expected to be a No. 8 seed.
Poll Question: How far will Pitt go in the NCAA tournament? Lose to Wichita State (0%) Reach round of 32 (0%) Reach round of 16 (100%) Reach Elite Eight (0%) Reach Final Four (0%) Win national championship (0%)
Robbie: Everyone has been talking about how good of a rebounding team Wichita State is. Also, Gonzaga's best player is its center. Would you say this is a pretty tough draw for Steven Adams if Pitt were to advance
Ray Fittipaldo: Pitt and Wichita State are very similar teams. I expect a low-scoring and close game. If Pitt wins, Gonzaga's center is a potential lottery pick, but I don't think it's a situation where Adams would be overmatched. It might be a good gauge for him to see how he stacks up. Kind of looking forward to it should the Panthers get by the Shockers.
Robbie: When I saw the bracket I got a really bad dejavu of when Pitt was in the 8/9 matchup vs. Pacific and everyone thought we could beat Washington in the second game... It's similar to this year with people saying similar things, but are you more confident Pitt will advance this year?
Ray Fittipaldo: That 2005 team struggled down the stretch, lost six of its final eight. The Panthers had been playing pretty well before losing to Syracuse in the Big East tournament. That being said, I'm not extremely confident the Panthers will move on past the Shockers. It's pretty much a coin-flip game. Both teams are built around defense and rebounding, so the Panthers are going to have to show up from the jump and play for 40 minutes. This Wichita State team made the NCAA tournament last year and lost to VCU in its first game so the Shockers are motivated to do better this year.
Robbie: I don't understand how it's a coin-flip game. Wichita St. has losses to Indiana St, Evansville (twice) and SIU who finished last in its conference. Both teams have 8 losses, but Pitt played in a way tougher conference. Pitt has to be a heavy favorite on paper.
Ray Fittipaldo: Pitt is only a 4.5 favorite in Vegas. The Missouri Valley Conference is not a bad league. Pitt knows this more than any school. Bradley is from the MVC and the Braves knocked Pitt out in 2006 in the round of 32. Plus, Wichita State lost some of those games when it was dealing with injuries. Two of three starters who were injured are healthy now.
Dieng(o) Unchained: Hey Ray i know pitts non conference schedule was bad this year, but why is it necessary for them to play a bunch of good teams when they are going to go through the gauntlet anyway through the big east or acc?
Ray Fittipaldo: Most teams, Pitt included, would like a few tests in the non-conference schedule. Pitt had Michigan and was expecting Virginia or Kansas State in the NIT Tip-Off. The Panthers got Delaware instead because the Blue Hens upset the Cavaliers. Also, Pitt was expecting a Big East/SEC Invitational game and the Big East took that game away from the Panthers. So Jamie Dixon would have liked three games vs. other BCS schools and only got one. Most coaches try to schedule in the same manner. There are a few but not many that schedule more than three games vs. BCS schools. This was just an odd year when some extenuating circumstances came back to bite them.
Robbie: Fair point with the Bradley loss, Pitt had senior Carl Krauser and junior Aaron Gray on that team and we still lost. However, I'm looking for encouragement that Pitt will cruise by Wichita St. and then oust Gonzaga in the second round, where is that encouragement???
Ray Fittipaldo: Pitt has a puncher's chance against Gonzaga if it gets past Wichita State because the Zags are not known for their physicality. The Panthers would have an opportunity to get some rebounds and possibly some second-chance points, but Steven Adams and Talib Zanna haven't exactly been proficient in finishing around the hoop this season, so I don't want to give any false hope. Pitt would have to play extremely well to get to the Sweet 16.
Dieng(o) Unchained: After seeing 3 of the top 4 teams in the be tournament heading to the acc i think its going to be clearly the best conference once louisville joins, whats your take
Ray Fittipaldo: That's why the ACC went after Syracuse and Pitt. Coaches like Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski were tired of playing second fiddle to the Big East. The ACC had a few good teams at the top of its league this season, but it was not a good year. I haven't checked lately but a few weeks ago the ACC was something like seventh in the RPI behind the Mountain West. The addition of Pitt, Syracuse and Notre Dame next season (and Louisville in 2014) will help in that regard.
Ray Fittipaldo: Thanks for participating in the chat this week. Enjoy the game tomorrow. I'll do another chat next week, either previewing the Sweet 16 or wrapping up the season.
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