In a release today, the University of Pittsburgh has announced the 2014-15 non-conference portion of the basketball schedule. Many of the games were known ahead of time like the participation in the Maui Invitational has been scheduled for years, and the trip to Indiana was announced earlier this year. Today, the rest of the slate was revealed, and many interesting games are on the docket.
Obviously, the headliner here is the Maui Invitational. The Panthers will play three games against seven possible opponents. In the field, three are in ESPN's very early top 25 for next season, including the third ranked, TJ McConnell-led Arizona Wildcats. Kansas State and San Diego State are also in those early rankings, and BYU, Missouri, and Purdue are also perennial tournament contenders. In the release today, Pitt is actually playing a fourth game in the state of Hawaii, against the University of Hawaii on November 21 before the invitational.
The other big game has been known for a while, and that is the game with the Indiana Hoosiers in Assembly Hall as a part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Pitt also plays their annual game against Duquesne in the "City Game" at the Consol Energy Center. The remaining eight games will take place at the confines of the Petersen Events Center, but unlike in the past two years, Jamie Dixon is playing more credible mid-majors.
The December 30 game with Florida Gulf Coast could be the marquee game against the mid-majors. FGCU became the darlings of the 2013 NCAA Tournament by advancing to the Sweet 16 as a 14 seed. Manhattan is also a big game, as they gave Louisville all they could handle last season as a 13 seed. Oakland University is typically a strong program, and they also play a daring schedule.
Standing back and looking at the schedule, it is certainly more difficult than the past two years. Pitt found themselves playing in the 8/9 game of the NCAA Tournament despite some impressive win totals, and many believe the schedule was a reason holding them to a lower ranking. Pitt plays 14 non ACC games, and six of them are away from the Petersen Events Center, more than the usual. The one glaring hole on this schedule is the lack of a New York City based game, something Pitt seemingly always tries to do, but with Maui in the fold, it makes up for it. The ACC opponents are known, but the TV listings are being worked out still, but when they are announced the schedule will be complete.