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NCAA hopes virtually gone for Pitt in loss to Miami

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that was frustrating.

Pitt's basketball team probably saw its chances of making the NCAA Tournament vanish right before their eyes with a loss to Miami tonight. Short of winning the ACC Tournament, it's about time to start booking those NIT tickets. Would a trip to the ACC Finals do it? Maybe, but like winning the tournament, it's not really worth talking about right now. How can you realistically expect to beat teams like Duke and Virginia when you can't beat Wake Forest and Miami?

The older I get, the less disappointed I get in the losses. It's not that I necessarily care any less, but you just sort of build up an immunity to these things after a while. This, however, was really one of the more annoying losses to watch and had to leave even the most casual supporter with a bad taste.

Outrebounded? Shooting 21 three-pointers (albeit, some late) and only eight free throw attempts? Just not cutting it, folks.

Pitt had a bad loss against Wake Forest, but this one was set up for them to continue their run towards the NCAA Tournament. The game was at home (where Pitt has been dominant). It was senior night. Things looked even more favorable for the Panthers with the news that the Hurricanes' second-leading scorer, junior point guard Angel Rodriguez, wouldn't be playing. To drop this game? Bitter pill to swallow.

The Panthers had home court advantage, but the weather certainly was on Miami's side. A good number of people were apparently scared off enough (and for good reason - it is pretty miserable out right now) and the crowd was incredibly light for a team fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives.

I'll say this, too - Miami was just unbelievably athletic. In reality there were probably only a handful of alleyoops but it seemed like everytime you turned around, the Hurricanes were dunking the ball. Pitt was too often caught flat-footed and out of position on defense for my liking. And even beyond that, some of the shots the Hurricanes were making were flat out ridiculous. Give some credit where it's due - I don't know if Miami wanted the game more than Pitt but they made more plays.

The biggest problem was what we've seen at times this year - scoring droughts. Pitt got behind early 7-0 and scored only six points in the first 5 1/2 minutes. They scored only two points over a near five-minute span after that. That was a sign of things to come as Pitt picked up only six points in a span lasting more than 11 minutes in the second half.

Pitt's defense has been below average this year but the offense continued to lack punch and, as was the case against Wake Forest, they stumbled down the stretch in a game that was absolutely critical to their NCAA Tournament hopes. As the spotlight grew, the Panthers faded.

Is Pitt one of the 65 best teams in the country? Maybe. The fact is, though, that with everything on the line needing wins against Wake Forest and Miami, they've now come up short twice.

And for that, they simply don't deserve to get in.

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