I have said all year long that this is the best chance for Pitt to make the Final Four. They have veteran leadership with Brad Wanamaker, Gilbert Brown and Gary McGhee. Throw in the fact that Ashton Gibbs and Nasir Robinson have multiple experiences in the tournament, and you have one of the more experienced teams in the field.
The field is the weakest that I can remember. The top five teams are legit, but the rest are a jumbled mess.
The cherry on top was finding out what bracket the Panthers were in. The Southeast region is by far the easiest in terms of the quality of teams. There are good teams, but no great teams. Will this be the year that Pitt reaches the Final Four?
When I saw Old Dominion and Butler as the eight and nine seed, I immediately was concerned about the second round. ODU was my pick to go to the Sweet 16, and Butler was a first round nightmare for an opponent with their experience. I think both teams would have a legitimate shot at beating Pittsburgh in the second round.
Kansas State is the fifth seed and they present problems. Jacob Pullen is one of the best guards in America. They bring back several players who made a deep run a year ago.
People say that the pre-season rankings are garbage. I say that they matter more than you would believe. There have only been three teams to make the Final Four since 2004 that weren’t ranked in the pre-season AP top 15. Those teams include Villanova, George Mason and Oklahoma State. Kansas State is one of those teams that were ranked in the pre-season top 10. Another team is Michigan State, who has been struggling all season long. Butler was ranked high in the AP Poll a season ago and they were a couple of inches away from winning the National Championship.
Winning your conference tournament has been an omen to winning the National Championship in recent years. Four of the last five seasons have seen the NCAA Title winner be a winner of their respective conference.
Kansas, Ohio State and Duke all fit the mold of these criteria.
Pitt has to realize that this is the year that they can’t get upset. They have Florida and BYU as the number two and three seeds, respectively. Florida shouldn’t be a number two seed, and BYU is without big man Brandon Davies, so the advantage goes to Pittsburgh.
I have Pittsburgh going to the Final Four. I said all along that this is the best opportunity for them to do so. Now it is time for them to pull through and finally get over the hump. There are no excuses if the Panthers don’t make the Final Four this year.
About the Author
Written by Justin Welton
Born in Franklin, PA. Life-long Pittsburgh sports fan + Boston Celtics. Attending Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Working for WCUC - 91.7 and WCUB-TV. Clarion Call writer for two years.