Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Reeling Panthers Need Wins

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Reeling Panthers Need Wins

Article excerpt

There are big games and then there are important games for every team fighting for an NCAA tournament berth.

The big games are those against ranked opponents; the important ones are those that solidify a team's standing.

Pitt's next three games schedule fall into the important category.

The Panthers will visit two of the worst teams in the ACC this week -- Boston College and Notre Dame -- before playing host Monday night to a North Carolina State team Pitt beat, 74-62, Jan. 4.

Beating such teams are unlikely to stand out in the minds of the NCAA selection committee, but they are must-win games for the Panthers (20-7, 8-6 ACC) who can't afford a bad loss.

By all indications, the Panthers still are solidly considered an NCAA team by the "bracketologists," despite the 71-66 home loss Sunday against Florida State, but their status and potential seeding are dropping.

Pitt has a solid RPI (No. 41) and a chance to finish with a winning record in a power conference (they are 8-6 in ACC games with four games left). The Panthers remain safely in the field of 68 as a middle seed (Joe Lunardi of ESPN has them as a No. 10).

But Pitt's resume also includes an 0-6 record against teams in the RPI top 25 and a 1-6 mark against those in the RPI top 50.

As a result of the loss against the Seminoles (RPI 55), the Panthers have a loss outside the top 50 and a 5-7 record against RPI top 100 teams.

They play two top 100 RPI teams in their remaining four games -- North Carolina State (54) and Clemson (67) -- and could reach .500 against such teams. Pitt's other problems are its non-conference schedule, ranked No. 220 (according by RPI), and a loss against Cincinnati, the lone Top 25 team on its non-conference schedule.

The Panthers also have lost four home games and that doesn't help their overall resume because home losses carry more weight than road and neutral-site games.

The home loss to Florida State, however, was not a so-called awful loss or the resume-killer some people made it out to be. …

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