Pitt draws No. 8 seed in NCAA West Region, will play Wichita State
By Kevin Gorman
Published: Sunday, March 17, 2013, 6:42 p.m.
Pitt was expecting a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament, so its players had the same reaction when they were announced as the No. 8 seed in the West Region on the CBS “Selection Show.”
Which was no reaction at all.
The Panthers (24-8) sat in stunned silence upon learning that they will play No. 9 Wichita State (26-8), the Missouri Valley Conference runner-up, Thursday in a second-round game in Salt Lake City. Tip-off time will be announced Monday.
“When our name popped up, everybody was in shock,” Pitt fifth-year senior guard Tray Woodall said of watching the show at Pitt's Campus View Room at Petersen Events Center. “We were in shock that we're playing the Shockers.”
Pitt was projected as a fifth or sixth seed by bracketologists after finishing fourth in the Big East regular season, including victories at No. 2 seed Georgetown and at home over No. 4 seed Syracuse. That was evident as the Panthers “oohed” every time a No. 6 or 7 seed was announced in the previous three brackets.
There was an audible gasp, however, when Pitt popped up as the eight seed in the West bracket, the last of the four to be announced.
“We were guessing where we would go,” Pitt redshirt junior swingman Lamar Patterson said. “We didn't think 8, but it's not anything we really cared about. We knew we had to play a good team anyway. It's something you can't control, so you accept it and keep going.”
The Panthers missed the NCAA Tournament last year, snapping a streak of 10 consecutive appearances. They went on to win the College Basketball Invitational.
This year they're ready for a return to the Big Dance.
“Eighth seed, no one is happy with it,” Woodall said, “but we're just happy to be back in the tournament and ready to compete.”
Coach Jamie Dixon didn't dwell on the unexpected low seed or about taking a trip to the Mountain Time Zone. The Big East had a No. 1 seed in Louisville, No. 2 in Georgetown, No. 3 in Marquette, No. 4 in Syracuse and No. 7 in Notre Dame — and all but the Hoyas beat the Panthers this season.
“Going to the NCAA Tournament, everybody knows if it takes you moving up or down a line to motivate you then you've got other issues,” Dixon said. “We're plenty motivated, plenty excited about the opportunity and ready to play.”
The Panthers also dismissed the notion that they could look ahead to a third-round game against West No. 1 seed Gonzaga, the nation's top-ranked team.
“(Gonzaga) is right there (on the bracket), but we are looking forward to Wichita State first,” Pitt redshirt sophoomre guard Cameron Wright said. “We have to look forward to Thursday first because there may not be a Saturday.”
There is a familiarity with Wichita State and coach Gregg Marshall, who took the Shockers to a 29-win season and the NIT title in 2011 and an NCAA berth last year.
The Panthers beat Wichita State, 68-55, in the CBE Classic Nov. 23, 2009, in Kansas City, Mo.
Woodall, then a redshirt freshman, had 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals as well as six turnovers.
“I did (have a good game), but I had a lot of turnovers, too,” Woodall said, with a laugh. “Almost a quadruple-double if you're including turnovers.”
Wichita State is led by 6-foot-8 junior forward Cleanthony Early, who averages 13.6 points and 5.1 rebounds, and 6-8 senior forward Carl Hall (12.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg). Like Pitt, the Shockers have 10 players who average 10 minutes or more.
Wichita State and Pitt had common opponents in Howard, DePaul and Detroit, and both schools beat all three teams. The Shockers also beat fifth-seeded Virginia Commonwealth in November and MVC champion Creighton, a No. 7 seed, in January. But they lost three of their final four, with two to Creighton, including the MVC final.
Dixon complimented Wichita State as a good team from a good conference — while wearing the smile of somone who has been slighted.
“That's how it worked out,” Dixon said. “We can't do anything about that. What we can do is play well on Thursday and do the best we can against Wichita State.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Donald turns down New York invite for NFL Draft
- Pitt QB Savage turns down NYC invite to NFL Draft
- Former Pitt captain Cavanaugh blazes trail as entrepreneur