Pitt's weak non-conference schedule has been the butt of many jokes so far this year. ESPN even rated it among the worst in the nation. But for those hoping to see the Panthers tested soon, that wish will come pretty quickly. The team will see a significant boost in their degree of difficulty over the next three games.
First up will be perhaps the stiffest test - a game against No. 8 Cincinnati. The Bearcats have faced (and beaten) several quality teams including Oregon, Alabama, Xavier, and Iowa State. The good news for the Panthers is that the game will be at home, but it still figures to be a difficult one. After that, the team will hit the road for a game at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are 8-2 under former Pitt assistant Mike Rice and the RAC is always a pretty tough little place to play. A No. 2 Pitt team won by only three there in 2010-11 and by only six in the 2008-09 season. Rutgers generally gives Pitt good games there and that won't be a gimme by any means. If that wasn't tough enough, the Panthers will then stay on the road to play No. 15 Georgetown after that.
I'd argue that we still don't know all that much about this year's Pitt team, but by the end of that three game stretch, things should be a big clearer.