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Jeff Capel Responds to Criticism Over Pitt’s Non-Conference Strength of Schedule

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Pitt coach Jeff Capel calls out to his team in the ACC Tournament semifinals on Friday, March 15, 2024 at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. (Mitchell Northam / Pittsburgh Sports Now)

WASHINGTON — On Friday, 1-seed North Carolina took down 4-seed Pitt in an ACC Tournament semifinal battle in the nation’s capital, ending the Panthers’ run at an ACC Tournament title.

The Panthers, led by head coach Jeff Capel, believe that despite just one win this week’s tournament, they still deserve to be in the NCAA Tournament field when it is released on Sunday.

“I know we’ve gotten better,” Capel said. “I know if you look over the past — since January 20th, I think we’ve played as well as anyone in college basketball. Last year, I remember hearing, well, the early stuff doesn’t count, because we had an unbelievable win last year against Northwestern. We beat them by 28 points on the road. They ended up second in the Big Ten, so that’s a quad one win. We heard, well, that was November, or December, so it doesn’t matter. Now, all I’m hearing [about] is our Missouri loss. That was early December.”

Pitt’s worst loss of this season, a Quad 3 loss, came to Missouri at home. The Tigers made last year’s NCAA Tournament, but this year, aside from that Pitt win, have been abysmal. Dennis Gates’ team lost 19-straight games to end the season, and failed to win a single game in SEC play this year.

“Again, we thought we had a really good schedule,” Capel said. “We didn’t know West Virginia would turn out like they were. They were picked high in the Big 12. We didn’t know that Missouri wouldn’t win a game. When we played them, they were pretty good. We didn’t know they wouldn’t win a game in the SEC.”

That Missouri loss combined with Pitt’s lack of strong wins in the non-conference schedule, has come back to haunt them come March. On Thursday, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi mentioned on ESPN that the Panthers’ non-conference strength of schedule may hold them out of the tournament in the eyes of the committee.

“When I look at Pitt, if they played UVA best of seven on a neutral court, I think they’d win in six, and they’d all be ugly, low-scoring games. but my job is to say what they [the NCAA Tournament committee] are going to do, and the single most consistent metric applied by the committee in 30 years of this is if you’re on the bubble and your non-conference is really bad, you get bagged. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m saying, it is.”

According to Kenpom.com, Pitt’s non-conference strength of schedule (NCSOS) ranks No. 340 in the nation. Out of the top-100 teams in Kenpom’s rankings as of Saturday at 1 a.m., there are three teams with lower NCSOS rankings than Pitt. Iowa State (projected 2 seed per Mike DeCourcy) has a NCSOS ranked No. 352, James Madison (conference champ – auto bid to tournament) has a NCSOS ranked No. 342, TCU (projected 11 seed)’s is ranked No. 357, Northwestern (projected 8 seed), No. 355.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Tj
Tj
2 months ago

I hear him and understand his arguments but, I think we get left out. Even though the bracketologists are “experts”, they aren’t perfect but none have us in. Why will the committee find differently? H2P!

kmp30
kmp30
2 months ago

If the ACC gets 3 bids they may as well break up the league Monday morning.

Alex
Alex
2 months ago

I thought the non conference games scheduled was good but didnt realize that loss to Missouri would hurt so much. I thought Mizzou would have been a better team this year. Unfortunately if NC State wins the ACC tournament, they will probably take the at large bid from Pitt if they still had a shot. I gotta root for North Carolina now so then Maybe Pitt will have an opportunity.

kmp30
kmp30
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex

New Mexico and Colorado winning last night didn’t help at all. Not looking good. What a shame.

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
2 months ago
Reply to  kmp30

NC State winning most likely put the nail in Pitt’s coffin. If the ACC gets 4 it will most likely be UVA. But we’ll see…..At best another trip to Dayton.

kmp30
kmp30
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

I was rooting for NC State with the caveat that Providence, Colorado, and New Mexico also lose, and an NC State loss to UNC in the final. Would have cleared a bit of a path. Didn’t work out quite the way I’d hoped. No clear path now. Who would get bumped?

Alex
Alex
2 months ago
Reply to  kmp30

They still have Clemson in the tournament field. I don’t get the love for Michigan State as a SOLID team in the tournament. They finished as an 8 seed in the Big Ten tournament and their overall record is 19-14. If you are an at large bid, you should AT LEAST win 20+ games plus have a winning record in conference play. Is that too much to ask for??

Last edited 2 months ago by Alex
Robert Ewing
Robert Ewing
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex

Still feel that way about Michigan state after they beat miss state

GFF
GFF
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

I am expecting the email from Pitt for tickets to the 1st round NIT game.
It looks like they will be a 1 seed. So, If they keep winning, home games until MSG.

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
2 months ago
Reply to  GFF

I remember when Dixon had them as a one seed in tournaments that mattered….

GFF
GFF
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

…and got himself run out of town, soon thereafter.

Last edited 2 months ago by GFF
Skip white
Skip white
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

He did. Jamie and Ben Howland were taken for granted by the fan base. Sweet 16s were not good enough. The Stallings hiring was a disaster.

Robert Ewing
Robert Ewing
2 months ago
Reply to  Skip white

Massive disaster

Skip white
Skip white
2 months ago
Reply to  GFF

They moved the NIT from MSG. I wish it was still there.

GFF
GFF
2 months ago
Reply to  Skip white

Been a while since I paid attention to the NIT…..
Thanks.

kmp30
kmp30
2 months ago

I want to hear Jim Phillips say, “we have someone on staff whose sole job is to look into this and will advise teams on scheduling based on NET metrics and committee decision making.”

GFF
GFF
2 months ago
Reply to  kmp30

With the $$$ that are on the table, he would be derelict if he did not.

SC47
SC47
2 months ago

Come back Kenny!!!!

GFF
GFF
2 months ago

My recollection was that folks were touting the NW win, last year.

Since 2020, in the eyes of the committee, November games were just as important as March games, and to their respective impacts on NET.

This season, I agree that there is no way to control Missou and WVU.
But what about the other teams that the Pitt Athletic Dept. paid to lose at the Petersen Events Center? As part of their Duty of Care would not having an understanding of the NCAA selection system and any evolution thereof, be required?

Last edited 2 months ago by GFF
Rob Radich
Rob Radich
2 months ago
Reply to  GFF

What’s a few million more when you’re flushing $21 million for one bid in 6 years?

GFF
GFF
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

$21m is just for one guy, who can’t understand that Duquesne looks better that NC A&T or SCSt, and it just might generate more revenue.

What about the (potential) lost revenue from missing the tournament?

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
2 months ago
Reply to  GFF

Preaching to the choir. Jumping the gun on that extension was a huge mistake

BUCHPANTHER
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

I figured we would see you pop up back on here since they finally lost. It being the first time your thoughts would have merit… they don’t

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
2 months ago
Reply to  BUCHPANTHER

Lol. Bite me! How’s that for a thought without merit, jackoff?

Eric payne
Eric payne
2 months ago
Reply to  BUCHPANTHER

That’s his MO. This fight ain’t over. Jamie Dixon played weak non-conference games. Don’t ask Clara Bell for his advice.

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
2 months ago
Reply to  Eric payne

Yes it is, skippy. Lol.

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
2 months ago
Reply to  Eric payne

And it’s Clarabell dummy.

Eric payne
Eric payne
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

No, that’s YOU!!!

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
2 months ago
Reply to  Eric payne

LOL……….Methinks I’ll be gloating tomorrow night, cretin.

kmp30
kmp30
2 months ago
Reply to  GFF

Other conferences have consultants at the conference level working on this stuff. Does the ACC? Or is the good ol boys culture just ruining the league? Seems the ACC is resting too much on their laurels. It’s a different system and they need to recognize it and not expect the legacies of Coach K, Roy Williams, and Jim Boeheim, et al., to get the rest of the conference into the tournament. Not even sure I blame specific athletic departments as much as I blame the conference for failing to recognize it. Should Pitt do better on their own? Yes. And… Read more »

GFF
GFF
2 months ago
Reply to  kmp30

It is my understanding that the NET was developed to level the playing field, so that “Power Conference” biases would be negated. Yes, it is probably valid to assume that there is latent complacency, with the ACC. And, outside of the ACC, the perception has dimmed because of coaching changes. The conference does have an obligation. But, each team competes with the others, so Pitt needs to do a better job. Looking forward, the more “Power Conference” teams recognize and adapt, it will likely have a worse effect on the smaller conferences. Those teams will not get as much $… Read more »

Tom McGraw
Tom McGraw
2 months ago

Increase the field to 128 and add a week to March madness.

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