Yesterday the Panthers fell to 10-1, giving Coach Dixon his first loss ever before January 1. It was the first non-conference loss since the devastating Bucknell game two years ago.
Although no loss is a good thing, there are several things to keep in mind about the Panthers and their tough non-conference schedule this season:
Pitt always gets a raw deal in the NCAA tournament because of their lack of tough non-conference games. This year Pitt has obviously tried to squash that discussion before it even starts. Florida State, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Dayton, and Washington are all very good teams. Would I love to see Pitt get wins against all of them? Of course. Is that likely to happen? No. It is only logical that when you add that many tough games to your schedule that you can’t do as well as if you played five teams of the Robert Morris level.
If the Panthers do come out with big wins against these teams, then they prove to everyone that they deserve their spot near the top of the polls. If they drop some, everyone realizes that those teams are good, and the penalty might only be a few spots in the rankings.
The most important factor about these games is RPI. Of course Pitt’s conference RPI is fantastic, but come March Madness, they do go back and check out that pesky non-conference stat as well. I try to check this site for the RPI rankings every day or so. Yesterday before the loss, Pitt’s RPI rank was 9 and their Strength Of Schedule (SOS) was somewhere in the 60s. Today, after a loss, their rank went up to 6, and their SOS went up to 40.
It was definitely a disappointing loss. The Panthers played pretty well, lots of credit to Ronald and Aaron for that. That’s basketball. You can’t win every game, you just have to get pissed off and take it out on Oklahoma State now.