I’ve read a lot of negative feedback from Pitt fans about the decision to play the City Game and possibly one other non-conference game per year at the Consol. My response to these people: “Get over it.”
A lot of the frequent critics of Pitt basketball love to point out that Pitt isn’t quite up to the level of UNC, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, etc. Well, part of being on that level is playing games away from your cozy campus floor.
The best game of the year so far was Georgetown at Mizzou on a semi-home Kansas City (Sprint Center) court.
Duke is preparing for the National Title rematch against Butler in Newark.
Michigan State is thinking about playing on an aircraft carrier.
That’s what good teams do. They don’t fear change. They embrace it.
Pitt has played only one ranked non-conference opponent at the Pete since it opened. It is pretty obvious that we struggle to draw marquee matchups. If we can do that at the CEC, how is that a bad thing?
Regarding the City Game, I don’t see how there is any argument against the neutral site. It is a game that dates back to the 1930s and has seen good Pitt teams and terrible Pitt teams, as well as good Duquesne teams and the current terrible Duquesne team. That is what a rivalry is. Just like Pitt fans will always detest Penn State for ending their football rivalry, having Pitt refuse to play this as a neutral game would be just as arrogant. If Pitt is better than Duquesne, then we should go to the CEC every year and beat them. That seems like fun to me.
An obvious fact that seems to be getting overlooked in this discussion:
Pitt played 9 non-conference home games last year. Pitt is playing 9 non-conference home games this year. Playing Duquesne downtown did not “sacrifice” a home game. Jamie Dixon stated that he wants to play one other non-conference game per year at the CEC, but that is above and beyond what they need to have at the Pete. If the schedule doesn’t allow for it, I doubt you’ll see one that year.
Of course, the highlight of the Consol opportunity is that Duquesne will host the 2012 NCAA First and Second Round games in Pittsburgh. Assuming Pitt is highly-rated enough at the time, Pitt would have a nice 19,000 fan contest.
Keeping Duquesne and Pittsburgh happy might mean this happens every few years. Wouldn’t that be worth it?