Pitt Panthers Men Not NCAA Tournament Material


Jan 19, 2015; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Justise Winslow (12) and guard Quinn Cook (2) put defensive pressure on Pittsburgh Panthers guard James Robinson (0) in their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

For the Virginia Tech game being so important to the point that Pitt Panthers forward Jamel Artis stated it was the biggest game of the year, Pitt once again found a way to lose against a Hokies team desperate for a win. My colleague Brett Tunno said in his recap of the contest that Pitt’s NCAA Tournament hopes were looking grim, but I would take it even further, they have no chance of making it.

“We didn’t get it done,” Artis said of the 70-67 overtime loss.

“This is a big disappointment,” said coach Jamie Dixon. “This one’s going to be hard to travel back with.”

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This is a very small Pitt team with Mike Young playing a center position. Realistically, Young position wise fits in as a three. Additionally the defense comes and goes with Pitt’s sense of urgency, something guard Cameron Wright said allowed Virginia Tech to “kick our tail in the end”.

Pitt’s road record is also a large concern. The Panthers are 1-5 away from the Petersen Events Center with three of the losses coming by double digits. There was no reason that Virginia Tech hung around in this game. Pitt outshot them, but again could not finish the game. This contest reminded me a lot of the Boston College game. Boston College much like Virginia Tech is not as talented as the Panthers are, however played together while Pitt struggled to find itself.

Unlike previous years, Pitt does not have a shooter, although Artis with his 11.1 points per game has become more of a steady force. Artis has reached double figures in each of the past five games shooting .586 percent from the field.

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  • The Panthers inability to finish games also is a concern as is the fact that they were a +11 on the boards but the one that mattered most went the other way and ended up in one of a season high 12 three point baskets for the opponent.

    Even Dixon who always seems optimistic struggled to find words to say about his team following the loss, which is not a good sign considering its next opponent is #8 Notre Dame which Wednesday night defeated #4 Duke, a team Pitt lost to by 14 points.

    Fans can criticize James Robinson all they want, blame Young for inconsistencies or fault Dixon for potentially overusing Wright among other things, but the reality is that this team needs to play close to its “a game” every single game to contend. So far, Pitt has not shown me it can do that. There is still time with the Panthers in the middle of the ACC pack.

    It is clear that Virginia, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Duke and Louisville are favorites, however there are 2-3 more NCAA Tournament berths on the line and it is not out of the question that Pitt could come back, but to do so they need to get some conference wins. It’s next six conference games are Notre Dame, Syracuse, at Louisville, North Carolina, at Virginia and at Syracuse. I am not optimistic about this schedule unless these Panthers buy in and stop making excuses.

    Currently Pitt is not projected anywhere close to the NCAA Tournament and that should come as no surprise. For any chance of that to happen it will come down to the next two days of practice representing the best of the season. If not then this is a lost season.

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