Before I get into complaining about Pitt’s No. 8 seed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, let me start with saying that I don’t get too into seeding as for Pitt to make a run in the tournament, they are going to have to beat good teams regardless of whether or not they are a four or five seed or an eight.
But with that being said, the selection committee jobbed the Panthers pretty bad this year by dropping them to the eight line and sending them out west.
I could understand the Panthers getting shipped away from home, but not as a No. 8.
Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon took the high road on Sunday when discussing the low seed, saying:
“It is what it is. Judging by the past we figured that we could end up going out west and because they (NCAA) wants to keep you from playing teams you already played it may have moved us down a line or two. But you are going to have to play a good team whether you are a five or an eight. All we can control now is playing well against Wichita State on Thursday.”
But despite not taking much stock in the seeding, Dixon had to be disappointed and shocked.
Just judging by past history, no team that has finished in the top four of the Big East Conference, one of the premiere conferences in the nation, has gotten knocked as far down on the seed line as the Panthers have. That is simply something that hasn’t happened in history. This is also the Big East Conference that can be debated with the Big Ten Conference as the best conference in the nation this year. That’s the same Big East Conference that sent eight teams to the NCAA Tournament and somehow the Panthers get a No. 8?
Then let’s look at the fact that in the final AP Poll, the Panthers ranked No. 20.
No team in the Top 20 got jobbed as much as Pitt did this season.
Let’s just examine some of the teams seeded higher than Pitt.
No. 7 Creighton: Creighton comes in at No. 22 in the latest AP Poll and finished 13-5 in the Missouri Valley Conference, which got only two teams into the Big Dance. Pitt’s 12-6 mark in the Big East is certainly more impressive than a 13-5 mark in the MVC. I like the Blue Jays and it’s not that big of a deal that they are a line ahead of Pitt, but their body of work isn’t more impressive, as they have wins against only three tournament teams on the season (Wisconsin, Cal, and Wichita State).
No. 6 Arizona: The Wildcats finished only 12-6 in the Pac-12 Conference and are ranked No. 21 in the final AP Poll, although they do have non-conference wins over tournament teams in Miami and Florida, but they also have lost to teams like USC. Similar to Creighton, Sean Miller’s team has a slightly better RPI and BPI than the Panthers, but again I would suggest that Pitt’s 12-6 mark in the Big East is more impressive than a 12-6 Pac-12 team.
No. 5 VCU: VCU is another team I like, but to say an unranked Atlantic 10 team with a lower BPI deserves a better seed than the fourth best team in the Big East is a bit comical. The Rams have beaten Memphis and Butler, but have also lost to La Salle, one of the last teams in the field.
No. 6 UCLA: Ben Howland’s team is also below Pitt in the final AP Poll, clocking in at No. 24 and lost one of their best players in Jordan Adams. The Bruins won the Pac-12 regular season title with a 13-5 mark, but also lost to Cal Poly, USC, Arizona State and USC on the season. Pitt’s only bad loss came against Rutgers.
No. 7 San Diego State: The fourth place team (9-7) in the Mountain West Conference, which is a very good conference, but not as good as the Big East, gets seeded on the seven line despite losses to Wyoming, Air Force and Boise State on the season. The Aztecs are a good team but shouldn’t be seeded ahead of the Panthers. San Diego State is unranked and has only two good wins on the season (UCLA, New Mexico).
No. 5 UNLV: The Rebels are also an unranked Mountain West Conference team and gets a No. 5, despite having a BPI of only 26? There best out of conference win came on a putback against Cal, who they play in their opening round tournament game on Thursday? What happened to keeping teams away from teams they already played in the first couple of rounds?
No. 6 Butler: Everybody’s darlings, the Bulldogs have a BPI of only 42 and are unranked after finishing third in the Atlantic 10. However while you can make the case for Pitt to be higher, the Bulldogs have some huge out of conference wins (Gonzaga, Indiana, North Carolina, Marquette)
No. 7 Illinois: This one is bothering me as the Illini are also unranked and went under .500 (8-10) in their conference, even though they beat both Butler and Gonzaga this season.
Pitt can make a case that they were one of two teams (Oregon being the other) to get jobbed the most by the committee. It’s hard to ignore a 12-6 and fourth place finish in the Big East.
But I’m glad they did it.
The one thing all of the teams seeded ahead of the Panthers did this season was play and beat a couple good teams out of conference. Pitt didn’t even schedule one good non-league game, other than running into Michigan in the Preseason NIT.
Pitt’s non-conference schedule was a joke this season and hopefully the committee sent them a message that will encourage Dixon to schedule better in the future. But having said that, the Panthers should have been no lower than a No. 6.
By giving the Panthers an eight, the committee is basically giving them the same seed as Wichita State, their opponent on Thursday, a team that went 12-6 in the MVC, which unfortuntely doesn’t compre to going 12-6 in the Big East.
“We were shocked,” said Pitt guard Cameron Wright on the No. 8 seed. “We were honestly shocked. We thought we would be seeded higher. But it is what it is and now we just have to go out and play.”
But this could be a good thing as perhaps the Panthers will use the disrespect as motivation for a potential lengthy tournament run.
You can look at the entire 2013 NCAA Tournament and print out your bracket by clicking HERE.