NCAA Basketball

Pittsburgh Basketball: Conference Schedule Breakdown

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve written a few non-conference schedule breakdowns on schools in the Big East. I did Seton Hall, Rutgers, and, most recently, Syracuse. Now, I’ve decided that even though the conference schedule isn’t officially out, the opponents for each team are. With that, I can break down the meat of the schedule, the big games against the big teams, and really give everyone a feel for where the team is headed.

The Pittsburgh Panthers return Tray Woodall as their top player, bring in the seven-foot freshman from New Zealand, Steven Adams, and expect Dante Taylor to break out and be a big contributor for this squad. They were miserable in the Big East last season (5-13). Let’s see what they can expect from conference play this time around.

  • The three double matchups that the Panthers have this year are against Cincinnati, Marquette, Villanova, and DePaul. They’ll probably lose both to the Bearcats. Don’t sleep on the Blue Demons, because they’re scary too with Cleveland Melvin. The Golden Eagles will be tough as well, but Pitt may be able to steal one from them. However, they can sweep the Wildcats, so I expect Pittsburgh to go 3-5 in these games, beating only Marquette at home otherwise.
  • The home contests for the Panthers include Connecticut, Seton Hall, South Florida, Notre Dame, and Syracuse. The Huskies are in for a rough year due to their NCAA sanctions, so I expect Pitt to beat them. The Pirates may have put up a test if the game was in the Rock, but otherwise they’ll probably fall in the Oakland Zoo. Also, I think that Pitt can break the defense of the Bulls just long enough to win. However, I can’t see them beating Notre Dame or Syracuse. Both are extremely well-rounded teams that will compete for the Big East title, and the Panthers are just not there yet.
  • The toughest part of any college basketball schedule is the road games. This coming season, the Panthers will have to travel to Louisville, Georgetown, Providence, St. John’s, and Rutgers. The Panthers will get beat down by the Cardinals, it’s as simple as that. I also think they’ll lose to the Johnnies who have a ton of returners and look good. For Georgetown, it will be a close one, but I think Pitt has slightly more firepower. Against the Friars, I’ll give Pittsburgh the benefit of the doubt because it’s looking more and more like they will be without Ricardo Ledo. Finally, they should beat Rutgers, even in the RAC.
My analysis gives Pittsburgh basketball a Big East record of 9-9, right down the middle. In the past, Big East teams with a .500 conference record have gotten into the NCAA tournament, but having 10 wins is much safer. What I’m saying is that I expect Pitt to be a bubble team (although others are expecting better), and unless they show me something special, they may be NIT bound.
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