The Pittsburgh Panthers will be joining the ACC in the upcoming season. They also will not be ranked–at least in the USA Today Coaches Poll–to start the 2013-14 college basketball season. However, they should be ranked in the top 25 by the time ACC play begins.
Pittsburgh will have a very easy non-conference schedule. Its toughest opponent will be played against Cincinnati. The Bearcats could challenge for a conference title, but they are the Panthers’ only test. ACC play will be a different story, but this team should rack up a bunch of wins by the time they play their first ACC opponent.
Pittsburgh is a pretty popular name in college hoops, so if it goes undefeated for awhile or even runs the tables in its non-conference schedule, it could easily be ranked in the top 15. It really should not have any problems other than the contest against Cincy.
The Panthers have some talent, so it is not like they will be ranked just because of a good record. Talib Zanna and Lamar Patterson were in the top three in scoring on this team last year and both will be back for another season. Plus, a decent recruiting class is coming in.
It doesn’t help that big man Steven Adams and leading scorer Tray Woodall will be gone, but the talent is still there for the Panthers to succeed.
The ACC could be the best conference in the nation this year, so Pittsburgh will have to earn every win once conference play tips off. In the meantime, it could easily run the tables in its non-conference schedule, which would likely lead to a top 25 ranking by the time it plays its first ACC opponent.