With news of Pitt and Penn State possibly starting up another annual football series, you knew it was a matter of time before things switched to the basketball side.
The Post-Gazette's Sam Werner did a great interview with Jamie Dixon at the ACC meetings. So be sure to read the thing in its entirety. Among other things, Dixon addressed playing Penn State in basketball:
"There are obviously limitations on what you can do. You can’t please everybody. If you look at scheduling, there’s really no way you can do it. You’ve got to satisfy so many different components, whether it be revenue, whether it be ACC, your conference schedule, your non-conference schedule, rivalry games, exempt tournaments. It really takes care of itself if you sit down and look at it."
My hope is that the game this year in the B1G-ACC Challenge will renew some interest in the game. As I said last year, I'd rather see Pitt play a marquee team from the conference and save Penn State for an annual game. But as I noted this week, it's a more attractive matchup than playing a middle-of-the-road B1G team.
Committing to a non-conference opponent in football on an annual basis is far more difficult. But in basketball, teams have any number of chances to schedule a team regularly. It'd be one thing if the Panthers were rolling out games against top opponents, but Kennesaw State? North Florida? Bethune-Cookman? I'd much rather see Pitt square off against Penn State than any of those teams.
Dixon is right that many components are involved - trying to play near hometowns of players, 'finding new rivalries, facing opponents with coaches that may have ties to Dixon or to Pitt, etc. And I get that the Nittany Lions many years may not boost the RPI. But neither do some of the teams that Pitt faces. There's little reason that Pitt couldn't play Penn State every year in basketball with so many non-conference slots.
I typically agree with Dixon, but this isn't one of those times.