By John Grupp| Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012, 12:04 p.m.
The wait is over for thee 2012-13 Pitt men's basketball schedule.
Pitt's final season in the Big East features a possible Thanksgiving trip to Madison Square Garden and home games against Connecticut, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Villanova.
But the non-conference schedule could be without a major conference non-Big East opponent, and for the first time in 96 years, there's no Backyard Brawl.
As part of its 31-game slate, released Wednesday, the Panthers will play an 18-game Big East schedule, meeting each team once and Cincinnati, DePaul, Marquette and Villanova two times each.
After that, there are few chances at RPI-building wins out of conference.
The ACC-bound Panthers, left out of the Big East/SEC Challenge, are competing in the Preseason NIT — its only opportunity for a marquee win outside the Big East. The semifinals and finals are Nov. 21 and 23 in New York against — provided the host schools advance — Michigan, Virginia or Kansas State.
But host schools aren't guaranteed a spot at the Garden. Pitt first must win two preliminary home games Nov. 12 and 13 against opponents that likely will come from a group including Fordham, Lehigh and Robert Morris. If Pitt fails to advance, they would host two additional Preseason NIT games Nov. 19 and 20.
Pitt will open its Big East schedule at noon on New Year's Eve against visiting Cincinnati at Petersen Events Center. Coach Jamie Dixon's Panthers host Connecticut on Jan. 19 and Syracuse, a likely top-10 preseason team, on Feb. 2.
Some of Pitt's top road games include Feb. 9 at Cincinnati in a potential ESPN College GameDay broadcast and Jan. 28 at Louisville.
For the first time since the 1916-17 season, Pitt won't play West Virginia. The Mountaineers are in their first season in the Big 12.
Pitt will open its regular season against Mount St. Mary's on Nov. 9 at Petersen Events Center.
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