By Christopher Pansino
Yesterday, Pitt handled UNC-Asheville by the score of 74-51. Yet, the Panthers hardly felt like a number one team.
Here the dilemma.
On the one side, Pitt beat a lower ranked opponent by 23 points.
On the other side, they only lead by 3 points early in the second half of the game.
And while the final score is all that matters, it still concerns me that it took the Panthers so long to pull away in the game. It goes without saying that this team has some noticeable flaws in their game and because of that, they could exit the tournament sooner rather than later.
Moreover they remind me a lot of the 2009 squad that also received a number one seed. That year they played a lot of close games in the tournament, even if the final score seemed to say otherwise.
Even ESPN’s Sportsnation poll has the same result as last time, with over 50% picking Pitt to be the first #1 seed eliminated.
Looking ahead in the tournament, it is not too surprising why they might think that. Pitt does not match up favorably against their next two opponents, Butler and ether Kansas State or Wisconsin.
If Pitt can get past these two games and get out of the Sweet-16 rut they always fall into, a Final Four spot is highly likely, as the Panthers match up favorably against frontrunners Florida and BYU.
But Pitt cannot let teams get into these games if they can help it. They have to play a complete game. Not just the second half, like yesterday, or only the first half, like in the UConn loss a week ago, but a complete game with solid defense and some inside presence around the rim.
I think if they can do that, even if they lose, fans cannot be too upset. But if this team start clicking, I’m not sure anyone can beat them down the stretch.