If someone would’ve suggested prior to the season that Pitt could be a team that could qualify for the 2019 Men’s Basketball Tournament, they would’ve been laughed at.
That’s why they play the games and that’s why sports are so hard to predict.
Following their upset win Monday night over No. 11 Florida State, a national bracketology expert has Pitt as one of his 68 teams currently in “The Big Dance.”
CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm has Jeff Capel’s team as one of the teams playing in the First Four games. Those games will be played on March 19th and 20th in Dayton, Ohio.
#11 seed Arizona State vs. #11 seed Pitt
With so many games left to play and considering the level of competition, it’s probably too early to just planning a trip to the NCAA Tournament. However, it’s a tangible sign of how far Capel has taken this team in a very short amount of time.
Pittsburgh Sports Now caught up with Palm to ask him about Pitt and his reasoning for having placed Pitt as a NCAA tournament team.
“They’re more competitive than most people expected them to be,” said Palm. “Definitely more competitive than I thought they’d be with a first-year coach in a really difficult league. Yet, they’ve managed to pull off a couple of nice wins at home against Louisville and Florida State. Then, St. Louis is leading the A-10 and that’s been a pretty decent league and that’s a good win too. It’s a surprise they are where they are, but we’ll see if they can maintain it, because the schedule gets a little bit harder.”
What formula and reasoning did Palm use to currently have Pitt where he has them?
“One thing that’s new this year is that the selection committee has done away with the RPI and they’re using something called the NET, and they’ve combined it with an uncapped margin of victory formula as well,” Palm said. “So, if you look at a team like Pittsburgh, with an RPI they’d be at something like 95 and that’s probably not going to get you a lot of consideration, but with the NET formula they’re 52. So, that’s a borderline tournament team kind of ranking at least at how these rankings have been used in in the past. The committee has said they’ll be using the NET the exact same way they used the RPI so also means that some of the teams that Pittsburgh has beaten are doing a little bit better in the NET than they were in the RPI. So, compared to the other teams I have them as my least team in the bracket after the win over Florida State.”
If you’ve been tempted to break out Pitt’s remaining schedule and try to figure out how many wins they can get in search of some magic number, Palm says it’s still too early for that talk.
But the fact that the Panthers are in the conversation at all at this point in the season after last year’s debacle just shows how far the team has come in a short amount of time under Jeff Capel.