Pitt fans will want a big time non-conference opponent for the Pete this season (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Last week, Andy Katz mentioned Pitt's need for a basketball opponent in his 3-point shot column. Katz makes a good point, though fans won't want to hear it.In it, Katz says that Pitt needs to go for quality rather than a good name:
Pitt is still searching for a nonconference home game to replace the spot it held for the SEC-Big East Challenge before the Panthers found out last week that they were not going to be invited to the event. Pitt has to make the right choice with this game because their home schedule lacks sizzle, let alone top 25 teams. The Panthers must play a team that will be a conference champ contender rather than a team that has a name, but won’t be an NCAA tournament team and comes from a power conference.
Katz is right, but I also get that Pitt fans will want a big name (even if that team isn't all that great this coming season) rather than a solid program.
Pitt's non-conference schedule last year was pretty mediocre. The highlights in terms of name recognition were Tennessee and Oklahoma State. Penn and Long Beach State weren't bad teams, but, well, no one cared. And of that group, only Long Beach State was at home. The slate at the Pete was downright awful and you can understand why Pitt would want to get a big name. There's a waiting list for basketball tickets, so ticket sales aren't a big concern. But the university surely wants to draw better crowds for its non-conference games - many of which aren't played in front of full capacity crowds.
But as Katz points out, that name needs to have some value affixed to it in terms of actual wins and losses. Most of us assume that Pitt will be back to the NCAA tournament this season, but it's probably not the guarantee we'd like to think it is. If it comes down to the RPI, Pitt will need as many quality wins it can get ... and that only comes by playing good teams - not big names fighting for NIT berths.