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Notebook: Pacific a worthy foe

| Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Pitt basketball team would be wise not to look past Pacific in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday in Boise, Idaho.

Yes, it is tempting to focus on the carrot hanging over the second round, with No. 1 seed Washington likely waiting in the wings of the Albuquerque Regional. But Pacific is a well-coached, upper-classmen oriented team that has the best record in college basketball since Jan. 1, 2004 at 46-5.

The Tigers made The Associated Press rankings for the first time in history this year (they are No. 22) and feature older, foreign-born players who play selfless basketball. Still, No. 9 seed Pitt knows that a win in the first round against No. 8 Pacific would lead to a marquee matchup against the Huskies in Round 2.

"I wouldn't want to be Washington right now," said Pitt center Aaron Gray, who felt the Panthers deserved a better seed. "I'm sure they're not too happy to play us. They're going to have to meet us quick."

  • Athletic director Jeff Long understands that the NCAA selection committee gave Pitt a high seed because of a poorly rated non-conference schedule. He also said it is something that can be addressed.

    "Do we need to add, maybe, another top-level program to our schedule• Yes, we probably should look at that," he said.

  • Pitt had looked into taking a commercial flight to Boise, but opted instead for a charter, which was schedule to depart at 10 a.m. today. There are no direct flights from Pittsburgh to Boise. Pitt went through a national travel agency, provided by the NCAA, to make its arrangements.

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