Like a lot of us, ESPN.com is carefully following the NCAA Tournament situation. All of the major projections out there have Pitt in the tournament right now, but as we've all suggested over the past couple of weeks, the Panthers certainly have work to do:
Pittsburgh [18-7 (7-6), RPI: 41, SOS: 45] On Tuesday, Pittsburgh narrowly avoided a loss that might have, for the first time all season, pushed them to the wrong side of the field-of-68 cut, at least in concept, and the Panthers needed overtime and the benefit of their own venue to pull off the 101-96 maneuver against Wake Forest. Whatever its other resume flaws, Pitt has mostly avoided bad losses this season. It's one of the best things about their otherwise unremarkable resume. Over the course of the next nine days, Jamie Dixon's team travels to Syracuse before a homestand against Louisville and Duke.
As of now, ESPN has Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, and Miami as locks, and Notre Dame as 'in' even as the Irish have seven losses. That's mostly due to a ridiculously high SOS (13) and a great RPI (20).
It's hard to disagree with the ESPN assessment. The Panthers have been able to stake a claim to the Big Dance right now as they've avoided the disastrous loss that a lot of teams have. The flip side is that, while they have several 'good' wins, they don't have a great one right now. Three chances against North Carolina, Virginia, and Miami came and went, but the Panthers still haven't won a game against a ranked opponent.
We all know Pitt has work to do, but the question is, how much? Overall, they might need to win three more ACC games - whether it's taking the other three regular season contests or winning two and then one in the ACC Tournament. Winning three in the regular season would give them a 10-8 record in conference, which should stack up fairly well. If they do that and one of those wins is against Duke or Louisville, that should all but do it.
Part of it could mean they need to avoid a bad loss, too. All of the Panthers' remaining opponents have records above .500, but with Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech struggling in conference, those could be seen as bad losses - even on the road.
It's the same for many teams this time of the year so it goes without saying, but the Pitt needs to just keep battling and get as many wins as they can to pad their resume.