Pitt basketball is ready to begin another season with high expectations and held its media day this past week. The team took all the question marks from last season, starting off unranked, and turned in yet another NCAA tournament appearance.
This year, they figure to be rated much higher at the start of the season:
ESPN.com's Andy Katz ranks the Panthers 3rd.
Pitt figures to be in the top 10 after surprising the experts last season by going 25-9 and advancing to the second round of the NCAAs despite losing DeJuan Blair and Sam Young to the NBA. The Panthers rose as high as No. 9 in the rankings.
The various preseason magazines all have Pitt as at least a top-12 team. The Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook ranking the Panthers fourth behind defending national champion Duke, Michigan State and Ohio State.
CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish has Pitt at 5th.
This year won't be so much about trying to prove everyone wrong as it will be to prove everyone right:
Gary McGhee says this is the most athletic Pitt team he's seen:
"I've never been on a more athletic team," said Gary McGhee, the 6-foot-11 senior center who averaged nearly 7 points and 7 rebounds last season. "Everyone on this team can dunk, and you couldn't say that before with us."
Well, first of all, I might call his bluff on that - Travon Woodall can dunk? Really? Seriously though, I'm not sure how important dunking is to the team's success, but McGhee has a point - there is something to being athletic from top to bottom. Pitt is able to roll out guys on the bench like J.J. Moore, Travon Woodall, and depending on what position he plays, possibly even Dante Taylor, that could start for other teams. Good teams.
So what do I expect from this team? Well, to be honest, I expect it to be a good, but not great team. I'm not sure it has enough to make a Final Four run. I hope I'm wrong, but you either have to be really lucky or have at least one star player, and I'm not sure this team has one. I wouldn't be surprised to see this team reach the Sweet 16 or if everything breaks right and they catch a few breaks, even the Elite 8. But a Final Four? That might be asking too much.