Pittsburgh Basketball: Panthers Get Worst of ACC Rivalry Scheduling
In their second season in the ACC, the Pittsburgh Panthers‘ schedule is going to have a significant Big East Conference feel to it. On Tuesday, the ACC released the college basketball scheduling matrix for the next two seasons, in which teams are given two rivals to be played home and away each year, two additional spots where teams rotate in to play home and away in a season, and then five exclusive home opponents and five exclusive away opponents.
Of the four teams that the Panthers will see twice in the conference next season, three are Pitt’s former Big East brethren. In 2014-15, the Panthers and Boston College will meet twice, but they are not considered rivals and BC rotates out of that spot in 2015-16, replaced by Virginia Tech.
But for the two rivals which the Panthers will play twice each year, the ACC handed Pittsburgh both Syracuse and Louisville. The Panthers and Orange are Big East rivals going almost back to the foundation of the conference (Pitt joined a bit after it was formed). Louisville was in the Big East until the Big East/AAC split before this season. They played one season in the AAC, and now joins the ACC starting next season. Maryland leaves the ACC to join the Big 10.
Of all the conference teams, this rivalry slate appears to be the most difficult drawn by any school, at least on paper. Louisville would have an argument as they are welcomed into the conference by facing rivals in Pitt and Virginia, along with playing North Carolina twice next season and Duke the following year.
North Carolina has Duke and NC State as designated rivals, but this is nothing really newsworthy for the Tar Heels, given the legendary status of the Tobacco Road rivalries.
Pitt finished 26-10, 11-7 ACC this season and won one game each in the ACC and NCAA tournaments before being eliminated by Virginia and Florida respectively. Perhaps Pitt’s two best players, Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna, were seniors this past season. Head coach Jamie Dixon has a major rebuilding job on his hands and the schedule-makers at the ACC offices didn’t do him any favors.
Beyond the rivalry matchups in 2014-15, the Panthers only play Duke and Virginia away, while getting to host North Carolina without going to Chapel Hill, where Pitt lost a close game this past season. Pitt lost to both the Blue Devils and Cavaliers at home. Pittsburgh will have to be really good next season to excel given the schedule it has been presented for the 2014-15 season.