Believe it or not, it’s almost time for March Madness!
Yes, we are 30 days away from NCAA Basketball Selection Sunday. Last season, the Pitt basketball team didn’t make the tournament. Will they get selected this year?
Jamie Dixon’s team currently has a record of 17-6 and 6-5 in the ACC. Most college basketball experts have the Panthers comfortably in as a #6 or a #7 seed. Currently, Pitt has an RPI of 35, which looks like a #8 or #9 seed.
However, the Panthers remaining schedule is challenging and wins could be scarce. Pitt closes with North Carolina, Syracuse, Wake Forest, Duke, Louisville, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.
As of today, Pitt’s best wins have come against Syracuse and Notre Dame. They don’t have many big wins but they also don’t have any bad losses which is very important.
Is Pitt in the tournament or do they still need a couple “resume” wins? To get some national opinion on this I talked with 2 college basketball experts, Mike DeCourcy from The Sporting News and Jon Rothstein from CBS Sports.
Here’s DeCourcy’s take on where Pitt stands:
“I think they can feel confident but certainly not comfortable. The schedule hasn’t done them a ton of favors, stacking a North Carolina road game on top of one at Miami. There are opportunities to get quality wins at Syracuse later as well as home games against Louisville and Duke. I’m not sure Pitt can get there without winning some of those. It’s not so much they need quality wins, but those are the teams they’re playing now. They’re in a stretch where they play 6 of 7 games against tournament-caliber teams. So they’ll need to beat someone good to get there. And if they get some of those wins, they still finish with challenging road trips to Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. Neither is an easy win, no matter what the standings say. Pitt can’t afford to relax in either one.”
Rothstein’s take on Pitt:
“If the NCAA Tournament started today Pitt would be in the field. This team has done a good job of winning the games it’s had to win and has two solid road wins at Notre Dame and Florida State. A strong finish is definitely needed to feel safe on Selection Sunday, but as of right now they’re in.”
Q- “Does Pitt need a couple resume wins?”
Rothstein answer- “Signature wins are what separate teams at this time of the year and the beauty of playing in the ACC is the league is so good and that means you’re going to get opportunities. Pitt’s games against North Carolina, Louisville, Duke and Syracuse are all viable chances for this team to bolster its standing. That’s going to be a significant 160 minutes for Pitt basketball. There’s so many teams this year that are going to be close to the bubble so it’s very important for this team to make some hay in the last month of the season.”
Q- What’s the identity of this Pitt team and do they have enough to surprise in March?
Rothstein answer- “The identity of this Pitt team is one that’s solid, has good depth and has the ability to score the ball more than some of Jamie Dixon’s teams in the past. Pitt has already scored 80 or more points four times in ACC play. That’s impressive. There’s four really good players on this team’s roster in Robinson, Young, Artis and Jeter, but beyond that to me is the question. Can Sterling Smith make shots with consistency? Can Ryan Luther play close to the level he did earlier this week against Miami? If that happens, Pitt isn’t only going to be in the NCAA Tournament — it’s going to have a chance to win a game when it gets there.”