With NCAA hopes on bubble, Pitt men treating Clemson as must-win
Jamie Dixon hasn't had to spell out a doomsday scenario for Pitt entering its season finale Saturday at Clemson.
The Panthers are well aware that their hopes of earning an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament could hinge on whether they win or lose.
“We know what we've got to do,” Dixon said. “I'm sure they look at all the seedings and RPI — I know they do — and (see) it's obvious we need to go and play well and win.”
When Pitt (22-8, 10-7) visits Clemson (19-10, 10-7) at 4 p.m. Saturday for its last ACC game this season, the outcome also will dictate where the teams now tied for fifth place will be seeded for the conference tournament next week in Greensboro, N.C.
Pitt can clinch anywhere from the No. 5 to No. 7 seed in the ACC tourney, depending upon whether it beats Clemson and the result of the Florida State-Syracuse game.
“It's huge,” Pitt redshirt junior shooting guard Cameron Wright said. “Obviously, we're in a must-win situation, so we know we need to go down there and win this ballgame.”
The Panthers were considered an NCAA lock before losing four of their past six games and six of their past eight, including losses to Florida State and N.C. State at Petersen Events Center.
They have slipped to where bracketologists Joe Lunardi of ESPN and Jerry Palm of CBS Sports both have Pitt pegged as a No. 10 seed.
Lunardi projects the Panthers playing Massachusetts in the East Region in Buffalo, and Palm predicts Pitt will play Iowa in the South Region in Orlando.
“We're well aware of the predicament we put ourselves in,” Wright said. “It's March Madness for a reason. Every team, at some time in their school history, has to play this role. Unfortunately, it's us this year. We just have to get it done.”
Pitt has qualified for the NCAA tourney 11 times in the past 12 seasons, with the 2011-12 team the only one not to receive a bid. The Panthers never have been in this position under Dixon, where their NCAA bid depended upon winning the season finale.
Dixon has made it clear that the standard at Pitt is to expect to win every game, regardless of what's on the line.
“No matter where you are, we've been doing this a long time, and there's never a time where you didn't go into your last game where you didn't have to win,” Dixon said. “That hasn't changed. There'd maybe be times when we talk about it even though we were probably in and it was doomsday. We've had that question asked, but we were probably safely in.”
Only two years removed from winning the CBI, Pitt understands the consequences.
“You've got to win no matter what,” Dixon said. “There's not much separation. We've got to win, and you've got to win the next game after that and the next game after that.”
Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.
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.
- Pitt senior Weatherspoon’s work ethic second to none
- FSU star QB Winston working to improve on, off field
- Seton-La Salle grad Orndoff excited about his role in Pitt offense
- Greensburg Central influence follows Delaware quarterback
- Pitt coordinator House rebuilds defense with depth
- Johnson primed for second season at Pitt
- Pitt’s Chryst names Voytik starting quarterback
- Pitt’s ACC men’s basketball schedule announced