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ESPN says Pitt not a lock for NCAA Tournament ... but looks good

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

A short time ago, I looked the major bracket predictions for the NCAA Tournament. ESPN, which had the Panthers as a No. 9 seed, isn't ready to call Pitt definitively in.

In the site's Bubble Watch, five ACC teams are locks - North Carolina, Duke, Virginia, Miami, and Notre Dame. Syracuse is shown as a team 'with work to do.'

The Panthers are not a lock, but also not listed as having work to do. Pitt, however, is depicted as a team that 'should be in.'

Pittsburgh [20-9 (9-8), RPI: 44, SOS: 35] After spending the season staying in a very confined lane -- that unremarkable yet solid lane where you beat the teams you should beat and lose to the teams you should lose to -- Pittsburgh's past week seems entirely out of character. First, the Panthers walloped Duke, 76-62, on Sunday. Then, on Wednesday, they lost at Virginia Tech. Huh? It's less strange than it seems. Duke was at home, Virginia Tech on the road. The Panthers have had a few surprises here and there this season (a road win at Notre Dame, a home loss to NC State). Also? Virginia Tech is 17-13 overall and 9-8 in the ACC. Ten of its 13 overall losses have come against the top 50. Eight have come against the top 25. Buzz Williams is an awesome coach, and that team isn't nearly as bad as you probably think. Pitt still looks OK.

For now, that's about where I stand with this team. I don't know that they are an absolute lock should they drop today's game against Georgia Tech and also lose their first ACC Tournament game. However, even if that were the case, they still have a strong chance to be in the field. That's particularly true given the latest Bracketology projections that were released on Friday, listing the Panthers as mostly a No. 7 - No. 9 seed.