The Pitt Panthers basketball team had a golden opportunity in the Big East Tournament to not only attempt to win a final conference championship before heading to the ACC, but improve their seeding for this year’s NCAA Tournament in the process.
Thanks to a disappointing loss to Syracuse, that didn’t happen, but regardless Jamie Dixon’s team should be in a decent spot heading into Selection Sunday.
The question though is did the Panthers loss to the Orange hurt them?
I believe it did.
Had Pitt beaten Syracuse and potentially Georgetown as well, I believe the Panthers would have earned a top four seed.
Coming into the Big East Tournament, most projections had the Panthers as a No. 5 seed, but I think the loss could knock them down one peg.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has Pitt as the No. 6 seed in the South Region for now. That’s likely correct as not only did Pitt lose on Thursday, but a team like Wisconsin has gone on a run that will likely get the Badgers a top four seed. In addition, Syracuse making a run to the Big East Tournament Finals bumps them up and ahead of Pitt, as the Orange will likely now get a No. 4, at worst a No. 5.
All of that is bad news for the Panthers.
Pitt’s RPI doesn’t help them as they are only 43rd in the nation. But worse than that, they only have a 4-7 record against the RPI Top 50. Now is when you look back at Pitt’s non-conference schedule and wish it wouldn’t have been as soft. The Panthers have a strength of schedule rank of 84 and non-conference strength of schedule ranking of 271, which isn’t doing the Panthers any favors now as they look for the best possible seed in the NCAA Tournament.
One thing playing in Pitt’s favor though is their BPI rank of 13, which would suggest that Pitt is a No. 4 seed come Sunday night.
Pitt only has one bad loss on the season- a conference loss to Rutgers- so there is nothing there that could hurt them and almost every other loss this season, the Panthers had the chance to win the game.
But when it’s all said and done, there aren’t enough big wins and a very soft non-conference schedule.
That alone makes me believe that Pitt will fall to the No. 6 line.
Had they beaten Syracuse on Thursday, Pitt would be at the worst a No. 5 and you could make a strong case for a No. 4.
But missed opportunities have been the story of the Panthers season and that includes their potential tournament seed.