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2014 NCAA Tournament Bracket and Seedings: Analyzing Pitt's No. 9 seed

Streeter Lecka

So yesterday, the seedings in the NCAA Tournament bracket were set and Pitt got in with a No. 9. Had some thoughts on the seed and Pitt's standing in general.

First, if you were expecting much more in terms of a higher seed, you essentially took the stance that the 'experts' were wrong. Pitt was largely projected as a No. 9 or No. 10, and that was pretty accurate as we saw things play out.

Okay, so the biggest issue was likely the strength of schedule. It really hung around Pitt's neck like an albatross all year, but here's the thing - if the Panthers found a way to beat Syracuse and win one more of their big games against a team like Virginia, it really becomes far less of a factor that it was. Pitt was questioned for their lack of a quality win and while beating North Carolina this week gave that to them, they just came up too short in their other games. That legitimately made it very difficult to gauge just how good they were.

As I wrote earlier, the fact that Pitt played nearly everyone down to the wire was enough for me to determine that they're pretty good. But in front of a committee, a lot of it just comes down to wins and losses. While some undoubtedly take that into consideration, it's one of those unknown criteria and we have no idea how much credit Pitt got for some of those losses.

Overall, I'm disappointed by the seed and steadfastly refuse to believe that teams like Saint Louis and others in the 5-6 seed range are that much better than Pitt. Those teams have bigger wins and slotting them higher is fine, but a No. 9 seed for an ACC team with 25 wins and so many close losses to top teams is just a bit ridiculous.

The other thing to remember is that Pitt wasn't only a No. 9, but the last No. 9. The selection committee practically said the Panthers were a No. 10, which makes things even more preposterous.

Really, Pitt would have probably benefited from being a No. 10. In that case, you get a game against a slightly better opponent, but often avoid a powerhouse in the next round. Playing a team like Wisconsin and not running into a No. 1 seed like Florida until the Elite Eight really is an advantage.

And another thing - the nonsense about 'you've got to play everybody anyway, so it doesn't matter' is utter nonsense. Doing my best to not offend a large group of people because I know many believe in that misguided thought. But the fact is that it's flat out wrong for a couple of reasons.

For one, avoiding higher seeds until later means you might not have to face them at all. If Pitt were indeed a No. 10, knocked off a No. 7 and No. 2, they wouldn't even have the chance of seeing a No. 1 until the Elite Eight ... and by then, there's a good chance they're not even around anymore.

Also, while it's true you've got to beat good teams to win it all, realistically, few teams can actually do that each year. Sounds harsh, but Pitt is mostly playing to advance deep here. Reaching a Final Four or Elite 8 would be considered a great achievement this season. Pitt just needs to get as deep as they can and the fewer top teams they face, they better the chance to do it.

All in all, I'm pretty much done lamenting Pitt's seed. I think they belong higher, but the one thing they should have learned from this nonsense is that they need to do one of two things: Pitt needs to be more selective about cupcakes and land the ones that are more likely to win more games OR they need to simply go out and play some tougher major-conference teams. Pitt has always scheduled pretty favorably, but when the non-con mid majors were winning 20 games, it didn't hurt them nearly as much. The non-con foes this year were just pretty weak and Pitt is going to have to do something to avoid a 200+ SOS next year.

All of that said, not much sense in continuing to complain about it. It is what it is and we should be glad Pitt is in at all.

Beats the alternative.

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