Think you've seen the last of Ashton Gibbs? Think again. (Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE)
When Pitt's season didn't warrant an NCAA Tournament or NIT selection, the Panthers apparently decided they needed to continue playing. And with that, Pitt is headed to the CBI.
In the end, Pitt has every right to continue its season if they think that's what's best. But by playing in the CBI, the reward for doing so is extremely minimal.
The CBI, to say it politely, isn't thought of very highly in many basketball circles. Heck, I didn't even know there was such a thing until I saw a game on TV by accident a year or two ago. How low is the CBI on the proverbial totem pole? Even Duquesne figured they could spend their time more wisely:
"After we talked a little bit I decided before there was even a formal offer made that we really need to focus on moving forward," said Amodio. "I believe it is in our best interest to focus our time and attention on recruiting, planning and moving forward for next season."
Makes you feel really good for Pitt accepting the CBI bid, right?
The thinking is that Pitt's young team can benefit from playing in a tournament. But there's a major flaw in that line of thinking.
Playing in the CBI is nothing even remotely close to playing in the NCAAs. Pitt will start with a home game and then the dates/times are TBA from there. Plus, the competition obviously isn't as good as in the NCAA Tournament. Playing a bunch of mid-carders in front of dozens of fans isn't exactly the same thing as suiting up against sold out arenas against the likes of Carolina and Duke. While games against any team may provide some small benefit to the team, Pitt would be better served in trying to get into a tougher early-season tournament.
And by the way, if you think Pitt is going to cakewalk it's way to a trophy in this thing, think again.While Pitt can win it, this is by no means a gimme. The Panthers start off with a Wofford team that gave them a major scare at the Pete a few seasons ago. From there is a potential second round matchup against Princeton. The Tigers were 19-11 and beat Florida State (one of the hottest teams in the nation), Rutgers, and a ranked Harvard team. And after that could be a game against 20-win Butler ... and all of that's just to get to a final best of three series in a championship.
Sounds like fun to me.
Here's the kicker, too. Even if Pitt runs the gauntlet, beats all of those teams, and goes on to add a trophy to their case at the Pete, it won't mean all that much. Nothing more than a "Remember when" situation. Winning the CBI isn't a recruiting tool, dude, it's an embarrassment because it means you were there. Winning the tournament would only serve as a reminder that Pitt sunk so low that they participated in it.
And the icing on the cake is that Pitt is apparently paying money for the joy of hosting a tournament.
Playing in the CBI isn't a disaster of epic proportions, but I don't see the allure or much of a benefit. Is it really worth the embarrassment which will (and should) surely follow so that Cam Wright can work on his handle for a few more games? Sorry, I don't get it.
That said, when Pitt tips off against Wofford, I'll do what I always do when Pitt plays - hope they win.