Been meaning to get to this, but Pitt's 2014 baseball schedule was released a few weeks ago. As expected, with the move to the ACC, the competition is a lot more difficult.
The Panthers, per their release, will play five conference opponents with an RPI in the top 20 last season - North Carolina, Virginia, Clemson, Virginia Tech, and Miami. Whether the Panthers can compete against that kind of competition remains to be seen. But count head coach Joe Jordano among those who are glad to see it:
"I really like this schedule," said Jordano. "I think what you try to do is position your team to play against competition that is capable of playing, and has been successful, in the NCAA Tournament because that's our goal. That's where we want to be at the end of the year so to put us in those type of environments is beneficial not only to us as coaches and players but for our program as well and we'll continue to do that in the future."
"We are also extremely excited about our first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference," Jordano continued. "In the ACC, there are no teams that are weak, so every weekend is going to be a great challenge but we're really looking forward to this level of competition and our guys will be ready for it."
Yeah, I get all that. My biggest concern, though, is that the Panthers will take their fair share of lumps this season. And for a program that was taking a step forward over the past few years, it could mean more setbacks.
The flipside is that if Pitt stays afloat with the increased competition, the baseball program really should take some steps ahead. Last year, Pitt had a great season but was left out of the NCAAs presumably because of a weak schedule. No such issue will happen this season if Pitt again is able to beat the teams on the schedule.
Also, as I've said before, the bump in competition should equal better recruits heading Pitt's way.
We'll see how it all shapes out. It's really a sink or swim type of time for the Panthers.