The day has finally come and the college basketball season for Pitt officially starts tonight against Niagara. With the season here, I figured I would take a stab at predicting the entire season.
For starters, Pitt will enter ACC play with a record of 12-1. They will defeat Indiana at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana, but will get their lone loss if they play Arizona at the Maui Invitational. With a 12-1 record, Pitt will then coast to a 5-0 ACC record to kick-off the conference schedule with wins against North Carolina State, Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, and Georgia Tech.
They will suffer their first ACC loss when they head to Cameron Indoor to play Duke on January 19 and will follow that up with another loss to Louisville to bring their ACC record to 5-2 and overall record to 17-3.
The Panthers will then defeat Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, and Bryant. Notre Dame, in particular, is a game to circle on the calendar, because Mike Brey seems to always figure out a way to give Jamie Dixon headaches. This brings us to a pivotal match with Syracuse at home, and I think Pitt wins this close, old-style Big East slugfest. This brings the team to 8-2 in the ACC and 21-3 overall.
Pitt will then take their fans on an emotional rollercoaster with four straight losses to Louisville, Virginia, North Carolina and Syracuse. Fans will soon forget how this season was "the year" and will soon be asking how much longer until Dixon is replaced. At this point in the season I will most likely write yet another article defending him as head coach, which will undoubtedly draw criticism. Pitt will cruise through the rest of their ACC schedule with wins against Boston College, Wake Forest, Miami, and Florida State. This leaves them at 25-7 overall and 12-6 in the ACC.
Their ACC record should be good enough to get them the five seed again in the ACC tournament and Pitt will once again reach the ACC tournament semifinals, where they will lose to top-seeded Duke. With an overall record of 27-8 and a decent strength of schedule, Pitt gets into the big dance as a No. 5 seed and immediately is the 5/12 upset that Pitt fans are predicting.
Pitt narrowly escapes the upset in the Round of 64 and defeats the No. 4 seed in the next round to earn their first trip to the Sweet 16 since 2009 when they lost in the Elite 8 to Scottie Reynolds and Villanova.
Pitt will conclude its season with a final record of 29-9 and the same fans who thought the team would lose in the first round will be unsatisfied with a return to the Sweet 16. The other half of the fanbase will celebrate the rollercoaster season that it was and will predict a Final Four run for 2015-16.
What do you think of these predictions? Let me know and as always tweet at me @AronMinkoff