As I was leaving the Pirates game on Friday, I ran into the couple that sits next to me at Pitt basketball games. They seemed pretty pessimistic regarding Pitt’s chances in this upcoming season. It’s a feeling I get from some others regarding Pitt’s first season in ACC basketball.
I can probably be forgiven for being a bit of an eternal optimist but I don’t see the cause for major despondence. Part of people’s trepidation, I think, rests with not being as intimately familiar with the ACC as we were with the Big East. Another rests with the two behemoths of ACC basketball, Duke & UNC. But as I’ve detailed before, the ACC is very top-heavy. Outside of UNC & Duke, who are we to fear? Clemson, Florida State and NC State aren’t exactly setting the college basketball world afire.
But perhaps the major reason for trepidation is conflating Pitt’s now-annual March swoon with its ability to compete within the ACC regular season. We’re all disappointed by those losses but it bears noting that Pitt’s ability to excel in the ACC regular season is completely divorced from its seeming inability to compete in March Madness.
As noted by Cardiac Hill, even ESPN thinks that Pitt’s worst case scenario for next season still places it as top-half ACC team which implies an NCAA tournament berth.
The worst case scenario mentioned isn’t even all that bad. He suggests Pitt at worst is still a top half team in the league and with that spot in the standings, it is almost implied that Pitt would still be a tournament team. King also thinks the physical Big East style of play contrasting with the ACC officiating will not be much of an issue.
There’s much to be determined but with the incoming talent and with Jamie Dixon’s ability to coach guys up, I’m looking forward to the upcoming ACC basketball season (if not the tournament). Again, from Cardiac Hill, which isn’t always a bastion of sunny optimism.
Pitt returns three starters from a NCAA tournament team in Lamar Patterson, Talib Zanna, and James Robinson. They also bring back two key reserves in Cam Wright and Durand Johnson. Pitt will also welcome top 50 recruits, Mike Young and Detrick Mostella. How this all plays out in wins and losses is yet to be determined, but after a lot of concerns early on, things suddenly don’t look so bad.
Hail to Pitt!