Monday, March 18, 2013

Did Pitt get jobbed by the NCAA tournament selection committee? Probably

For years, I've had a running joke (with myself) that whatever seed people are predicting for the Pitt Panthers in the days and weeks leading up to Selection Sunday, just add two to that number, and you'll probably have your seed for Pitt.

And it's fitting that my prediction for the Panthers this time was a six seed. Actually, that was the prediction of most people much smarter and more knowledgeable about these things than yours truly.

However, like a lot of previous selection shows, I placed my hands on my head and said "what" when Pitt's No. 8 seed was revealed. I really don't know why I was surprised because it was par for the course.

This has been going on for years, and you might think I'm just a paranoid fan, but check out the final top 25 rankings that came out on Monday.

Every team ranked ahead of Pitt is seeded pretty much where that ranking says it should be. As for the Panthers, however, their 20th ranking doesn't mesh with where they are seeded in the West bracket. When a team is seeded eighth, one can assume the selection committee doesn't think it's any better than the 29th program in the country.

It's clear Pitt was under-seeded, but perhaps, this time, that's a good thing. Had the Panthers been a higher seed, say a 5th or 6th seed, a lot of fans would have raised their expectations for a deep run in the tournament. It's no secret the program has yet to have that one watershed tournament moment where it's reached a Final Four. Until it does, nothing short of that will really matter.

However, this season, if Pitt gets by Wichita St. and then knocks off No. 1 seed, Gonazaga, that would be quite the remarkable achievement--the Panthers have never defeated a higher seed in the tournament--and anything after that would be gravy.

And maybe the committee did Pitt a favor this time by seeding it so low. Many consider Gonzaga a weak No. 1 seed, and a lot of people consider the West bracket a pretty weak bracket. Perhaps, in the West, a No. 8 seed is on par with a No. 6 seed in another region.

I don't know, but I do know the Panthers were seeded too low. Perhaps, this time, they can prove it on the court and finally have the one shining moment we fans have been waiting forever to experience.

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