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Pitt's non-conference schedule will improve

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Pitt has always caught some flak for a shaky non conference schedule and it looks like the administration is ready to improve it.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt's basketball team racked up a 12-6 Big East regular season record this year. Most years, that would be a lock for a top five seed in the NCAAs, but the Panthers managed to fall to an eight seed this year. The most logical answer most can come up with is they simply played an awful non-conference schedule. Outside of playing Michigan on a neutral floor, the Panthers played zero NCAA tournament teams. That is something that should change next season and beyond.

Pitt will move to the ACC next season, so a conference slate of Duke, North Carolina, Miami, Syracuse, and Notre Dame is still a tall task. The Panthers will still need to step outside of the box and play some good competition, though. Pitt will be a part of the Legends Classic that takes place in the brand new Barclay's Center in Brooklyn. To advance, the Panthers will need to win some preliminary games, but that should be possible. Other reported teams will be Texas Tech and Stanford. Neither are powerhouses, but they will be a bit more challenging than Delaware State, Kennesaw State, and North Florida.

The 2014 season will have Jamie Dixon's squad heading to Hawaii for the prestigious Maui Invitational. Typically stacked with seven major conference teams and small Chaminade, it is a three-day tournament around Thanksgiving that will be in the ESPN spotlight all week long. Pitt will be joined by fellow 2013 tournament teams Arizona, San Diego State, Missouri, and Kansas State. Also there are perennial tournament contenders BYU and Purdue.

On top of that, as a member of the ACC, Pitt will also play in the ACC/Big Ten challenge from now on as well. That has the potential to add yet another marquee game.

The naysayers about the schedule have been heard. The NCAA tournament selection committee clearly looks at who you played, and it's good to know Pitt is adjusting.

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