The Panthers' basketball program is accustomed to playing the majority of its non-conference games at home. For the first time in a while, though, that won't be the case in the upcoming season.
The non-conference portion of the schedule was released on Tuesday. Pitt will play a total of 14 non-conference games this season and only eight will be at The Pete.
Forcing the Panthers away from home is the Maul Invitational in Hawai'i. Not only will the team suit up three times there, but they will also play a road game against The University of Hawai'i. In addition, Pitt will travel to Indiana to face the Hoosiers as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Panthers will stay in the City of Pittsburgh for their game against Duquesne, but it will be at the Consol Energy Center downtown and off of campus.
All told, Pitt will be playing six games away from The Pete, and two are even true road contests. That's not been standard practice in recent years.
Last year, the Panthers had four non-con games away from the Pete, and none were true road contests as they were played at neutral sites. In 2012-13, they left the Pete for only three games and in 2011-12, they played only four away from home. In fact, as I tweeted out yesterday, in the Dixon era, no Pitt team has played more games away from home as they will this season.
You also have to go back to 2007-08 to find a season when Pitt played more than two true road games (they played at Washington, Dayton, and Duquesne).
Overall, this is really something that should only help Pitt. Playing on the road at Indiana won't be easy and even against Hawai'i with all kinds of distractions, that game could provide some challenges. Throw in the non-conference games at the Maui Invitational, and Pitt should be battle tested for not only the ACC season, but also (assuming they make it) the NCAA Tournament.
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