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Pitt non-conference basketball 2014-15 schedule underrated by media

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since Pitt's non-conference basketball schedule was officially released, writers have been all but coming out of the woodwork with all sorts of criticism.

Matt Norlander of CBS Sports doesn't see much improvement from last year's weak slate and says it is largely soft. NBC Sports still sees Pitt as a weak scheduler. Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo gives Pitt a little bit of credit, but overall, the media spin has been unpredictably negative. The fact that the Panthers have had some light non-conference schedules under Dixon is well documented, but even with that basis, I'm still somewhat surprised the backlash has been so rough.

Fact is, Pitt's out-of-conference schedule isn't all that bad.

For starters, as I wrote earlier, the Panthers' non-ACC slate will give Pitt the most games away from The Pete that they've had under Jamie Dixon. Without performing a side-by-side comparison with all of the other D-I teams, my guess is that the six games they'll play away from home are more than several major programs will play. And when it comes to the games, the competition Pitt will face isn't half bad, either.

There's the difficult road trip to face the Hoosiers, of course, but there's more than that. The Panthers will get at least one good game in the Maui Invitational (possibly more). In addition, Manhattan won 25 games and reached the NCAA Tournament. Florida Gulf Coast followed up their 2013 Sweet 16 run with a 22-win season last year before getting into the NIT where they nearly knocked off top-seeded Florida State. Holy Cross won 20 games. St. Bonaventure and Bryant had winning records.

Even playing at Hawaii, which seems like a mostly non-threatening game, presents its challenges. Other than the obvious distractions Pitt will face there, the Warriors actually were respectable last season, winning 20 games, beating Oregon State, and hanging with NCAA-tournament team New Mexico State, Missouri, and 21-win Boise State.

Let's not kid ourselves here - this isn't the most difficult schedule in the world. And I'll listen to the argument that there are good rather than 'great' teams here. But for media pundits to paint this as one of the worst non-con schedules in D-I is nothing short of laughable.

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