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Pitt's first ACC season includes home games against Duke, Syracuse

| Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 3:09 p.m.

While traveling to recruit and speak at coaching clinics this summer, Pitt coach Jamie Dixon experienced the enthusiasm for the expanded ACC as the nation's best.

“The thing I recognize is the excitement around here but also nationally,” Dixon said. “It's clearly the No. 1 basketball league in excitement. There is great interest in it, no question.”

Seeing the ACC schedule only reinforced that feeling.

Pitt's inaugural men's basketball season in the ACC will see the Panthers play an 18-game conference schedule and face each of the 14 possible league opponents at least once. Pitt will play Clemson, Maryland, N.C. State and Syracuse both home and away.

Sixteen games will be on national television.

As if playing an ACC schedule isn't challenging enough, Pitt has three short turnarounds that add to its difficulty. It follows a noon Saturday game at N.C. State with a 7 p.m. Monday game against Maryland; a 6 p.m. Saturday game at Maryland with a 7 p.m. Monday game against Duke; and a 2 p.m. Saturday game at Notre Dame with a 9 p.m. Monday game against N.C. State.

“You're going to have some of those,” Dixon said. “A while back, I recognized that this isn't going to be easy. ... We're in the best conference in the country. That's a good thing to be part of.”

After enduring criticism of its nonconference schedule amid a 24-9 campaign that saw the Panthers finish fourth in the Big East only to draw a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Pitt also upped the ante in its non-ACC schedule.

The Panthers play Texas Tech and either Houston or Stanford in the Legends Classic at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and then against former Big East rival Cincinnati in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden. Pitt also plays Duquesne in the annual City Game Nov. 30 at Consol Energy and hosts Penn State on Dec. 3 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

It opens with exhibition games against UC-San Diego and Slippery Rock. The Panthers play nonconference home games against Savannah State, Fresno State, Loyola Marymount, Youngstown State, Cal-Poly and Albany. Pitt also plays host to Howard and Lehigh in the Legends Classic.

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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