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Pitt's 10-3 non-conference mark not ideal, but could have been worse

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

We all know about Pitt's horrendous game on Saturday against North Carolina State, but I wanted to briefly reference the non-conference schedule if I could. On Tuesday, Pitt's non-conference basketball season virtually ended (they have a midseason game against Bryant still to come) with a win against Florida Gulf Coast. The Panthers' 10-3 record was far from ideal, but things could have gone worse - much worse.

Pitt escapes the non-conference with three losses and, in reality, none are all that bad.

Indiana finished its non-conference schedule with a 10-3 record - one of those losses was in overtime to Georgetown and one was a two-point loss (albeit, to Eastern Washington). The Hoosiers own ranked wins over Butler and SMU, and are a quality team.

Same goes for 10-3 San Diego State. The Aztecs have a ranked win over Utah and losses to only major-conference teams Arizona, Washington, and Cincinnati - none were at home.

Pitt's most questionable loss has come to Hawaii. But even the Warriors are proving they're for real on some level. Hawaii is 12-4 and doesn't have any losses to teams with sub .500 records (as of Tuesday). One of those losses was a one-point defeat in overtime to No. 11 Wichita State and Hawaii also owns wins against Colorado and Nebraska.

All told, the Panthers have three losses to pretty good teams. Realistically, though, they could have more.

Samford kept things close with Pitt and were within three points with about 30 seconds left in the game before the Panthers pulled away. St. Bonaventure led in their game with the Panthers with about four minutes left and trailed by only two inside of 25 seconds before free throws gave Pitt the win. But the team's biggest scare came against Oakland. Pitt trailed by two in the final minute before a pair of James Robinson free throws sent the game to overtime where the Panthers eventually prevailed. Pitt won all of those games, but dropping one or two was quite possible.

To be fair, Pitt did win all three of those close contests and you can argue that's what good teams do. However, the fact remains that they were closer than expected against teams Pitt should all beat and faced at home. The bottom line is that it's just very difficult to still know what we've got with this team because they've had some really lackluster performances.

It would have been nice to beat Hawaii at home or knock off one of the other two teams, but fans should be grateful that the Panthers have gotten away from the non-conference portion of the schedule with as few losses as they did - especially in light of the fact of their poor performance against the Wolfpack on Saturday.

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