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Pitt Basketball: Ever The Pessimist

I don't know, I guess I just can't help it. Actually, I wouldn't call myself pessimistic so much as trying to temper any enthusiasm about Pitt winning a couple of games missing some players.

And when I read Wednesday's Post-Gazette piece, I couldn't help but feel that way even more.

Zeise's column talks about Pitt essentially doing more despite the recent absences of Ashton Gibbs, Dante Taylor, and Lamar Patterson.

Yes, Pitt won both of those games (and, yes, I half-expected Pitt to lose the WVU game), but let's take a look at things a little closer.

Cincinnati is perhaps the definition of mediocre. Playing at home, Pitt should win that game, regardless of the fact that they were missing two bench players. In all reality, Cincinnati has no true wins of great significance and has only three that can reasonably be considered solid wins - blowouts of 17-6 Xavier and 17-7 Dayton teams at home, and a two-point win on the road at St. John's.

West Virginia is a good team and in my opinion, significantly better than Cincinnati. but after seeing the way Pitt played in the first half of that game, I'd hardly call that taking their game to the next level.

Further, while West Virginia is certainly a good team, let's not lose our heads. True the game was on the road, but the Mountaineers have had a tumultuous season, losing several players. They're down to eight scholarship players and the team's best player is just now getting back from a suspension. Further, while the Mountaineers have gotten some quality wins this season (Georgetown and Purdue), they've also lost eight games this year to teams including Marshall, Miami, St. John's, Marquette and Minnesota. Other than Marshall, I wouldn't call those teams bad, but it's a little telling that WVU lost to all of them.

The point is that Cincinnati and West Virginia aren't world beaters. It's nice that Pitt won both of those games, but I wouldn't say that Pitt doesn't miss a beat when they're missing players.

Now, if the Panthers can beat Villanova on the road without Gibbs, that's another thing entirely.