For the most part this season, Pitt has underachieved in playing against better teams. They had a nice blowout win against Georgetown and a quality victory over UConn, but against the top squads, Pitt's come up short.
First there was the five-point loss to now No. 1 Michigan. Then came losses against ranked Cincinnati, Marquette, and Louisville teams. Barring a disaster, Pitt should end up with at least 21 or 22 wins. But not beating a ranked team isn't a good thing. Now, I'm pretty sure that if Pitt beats the remaining jobbers on the schedule, wins those 21 or 22 games, that they will make the tournament. But it'd be nice to get a big win to erase any remaining doubt should the team falter a little bit.
Not only is Syracuse a great opportunity to do that, it may represent the best chance. Pitt still has games against ranked Cincinnati and Marquette teams, but both games will be on the road. They get Notre Dame at home, but the Irish have been fading and a win could be less impressive than we think.
This isn't a must win by any stretch. But the more I think about it, the more I'm constantly reminded that Pitt would be in much better shape with a W. A Pitt win means we're talking seeding instead of just getting into the tourney. And it'd be nice to get out of the 8-9 slot where the team would face a No. 1 seed in the second round.
Saturday's a big game for sure.