Well, can't say Pitt's win was completely unexpected based on their history against top ten teams at the Pete (still an undefeated 12-0), but with the way this season's gone, it was definitely a bit of a surprise.
Look, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, just now that Pitt as a ways (and I do mean, a ways) to go to even sniff the NCAA Tournament. If anything, it's the NIT that looks reachable, and even that's no guarantee.
If you need an idea of just how far Pitt is from the tournament, just look at their remaining schedule. Even if they won all nine remaining games, they'd still only be 22-9 with likely only three wins against ranked teams and several bad losses. Now, that would get them in, but running the table almost assuredly ain't happenin'. In my mind, to even enter the discussion, Pitt needs to rattle off seven more wins to get to 20 on the regular season. And even if that happened, an early Big East Tournament exit might keep them from a bid. Any tournament talk is still a ways off.
That said, this was a heck of a win. Lots to be happy about here.We're seeing what this team was intended to look like. Woodall really does, apparently, make that much of a difference and his presence means this is an entirely different team. It's not the fact that Pitt has won two in a row that should give you confidence nearly as much as the fact that this team has a much better makeup and is capable of winning more.
The impressive thing was that Pitt did it with pedestrian efforts from Ashton Gibbs and Tray Woodall. Had you told me before the game that those two would combine for only 17 points, I'd have given Pitt virtually no shot to win. Throw in the eight combined turnovers and the backcourt didn't have a great day, despite the ten assists from Woodall.
Others had to pick up the slack and they did - in a big way. Nasir Robinson was 9-9 from the field on his was to 23 points and Lamar Patterson (who's turning into a really good player, by the way), added 17 on 6-8 shooting. And even with some misses around the basket, Zanna played an excellent game with eight points and ten boards.
Next year, the team is going to be without Gibbs and Robinson. Was good to see some other guys step up today.
Pitt again got nothing from their reserves and Dixon seems determined to run the starters as much as he can. Four of the five starters played more than 30 minutes. Typically, I'd be completely against that, but there's just not much consistency from the guys on the bench. J.J. Moore, Dante Taylor, John Johnson, and Cameron Wright just aren't contributing much offensively on a regular basis. In 38 minutes today, they combined for only six points ... simply not enough to justify taking a starter out unless it's absolutely necessary.
I've been over the bench thing before, but these guys (with the exception of Taylor) are all freshmen and sophomores. There's a lot of inexperience there and while they need to get some minutes, in big games, they've got to actually contribute to justify getting on the court.
Big game on Monday against West Virginia. Winning on the road would be a solid win and while a loss wouldn't be the end of the world, at this stage, Pitt can afford very few of them.