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Analyzing Pitt's 2014-15 basketball schedule

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Mike Ehrmann

Pitt's basketball schedule dropped a couple of weeks ago and while I've wanted to give some thoughts on it earlier, the start of football season has kind of prevented that.

But better late than never, right?

Playing in the difficult ACC, the schedule's never going to be all that easy. That's especially true this year as I think the conference will be better than last season. To me, here are some noticeable stretches.

The first obvious thing is that the team is going to get tested really early. Maybe too early, in fact. After games Niagara and Samford to start things off, the season gets interesting in a hurry.

Pitt has the road game at Hawaii and playing a true away contest this early in the year isn't something the team traditionally does. I wrote about this earlier, but the game against Hawaii is more difficult than it might appear. The Warriors won 20 games last year, beat Oregon State, and two 20-game winners in Boise State and St. Mary's. After that is the Maui Invitational, where Pitt should play at least two good teams and could conceivably play three, including Arizona.

Immediately after that, there's no time to rest with the difficult road game at Indiana and then the City Game against Duquesne.

Fast forward five games and you get right into the ACC. The Panthers don't open with conference killers in North Carolina State and Boston College, but the key there is that both games are on the road - just not an ideal circumstance.

Pitt later gets a nice string of home games and what should be winnable contests, even though Duke and Louisville are sandwiched in the middle. But the real test starts on February 7th. Pitt's five games starting with that date are Syracuse, at Louisville, North Carolina, at Virginia, then at Syracuse.

If you're looking for the most difficult stretch, we've got a winner, folks.

The good news is that the Panthers end the season on a considerably lighter note with games against Boston College, Wake Forest, Miami, and Florida State, but those games could really be high-pressure situations if Pitt comes out of that five-game stretch with a bad record. Anything worse than 2-3 could be a season-killer and with the Panthers getting so much criticism for their non-conference schedule, they'll need to make an impressive showing in those games.

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