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The Art of Scheduling

I guess you could say it all started with the beginning of the 'New' Golden Era of Pitt basketball, back in the early part of the decade. In 2001-02, the first year of this new era, Pitt went 25-4 and was disrespected with a 3-seed. They went 26-4 the next season, winning the Big East Championship, and still only ended up with a 2-seed. And by the time 2003-04 rolled around when they were 29-4 and a 3-seed, one level lower than UCONN who had six losses, something had to be done.

Enter, the scheduling change. Out with the cupcakes and in with legitimate non-conference foes, many of whom make the NCAA tournament.

It took a few years to get it exactly right, but Pitt has been reaping the benefits. Heck, in retrospect, Pitt may have been slightly overseeded this year, though I felt at the time they deserved the 3-seed. But that's what happens when you schedule the right way.

Jamie Dixon makes no secret of what his goal is each year when it comes to scheduling:
"Our ultimate goal is to attempt to get the toughest schedule in the country," Dixon says.
All you've got to do is look back at the past few years of non-conference scheduling:

2009-10: Texas, Robert Morris, and Wofford were NCAA tournament teams. Wichita State (25-10), Eastern Kentucky, Kent State, and Ohio were all good teams - several making the NIT.

2008-09: Siena, Florida State, Akron, and Robert Morris were all NCAA tournament teams and Belmont, Vermont, and Duquesne were quality teams.

2007-08: Duke was a high NCAA Tournament seed and Dayton, Duquesne, Oklahoma State, and Washington were all solid.

I've made this point before, but it's easy for a casual fan to look at some of these names and think nothing of them. But many of the smaller teams like Wofford, Siena, Vermont, et al, have been league champions and are very good. Sometimes I gripe about making the schedule TOO tough because of the league they're in. But the fact is that in some of those early years, the Big East was very good and Pitt was getting shorted on the seeding. So it's clear that they're doing things the right way.