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Pitt-Penn State basketball expected to meet in 2016-17 season

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pitt basketball schedule is still being pieced together but word broke recently that the Panthers could be adding a somewhat high-profile opponent in the non-conference portion of it - Penn State. The two teams last met back in 2013 with Pitt winning 78-69 at home.

Andrew Stern of WPTS, I believe, had it first and it's since been confirmed elsewhere. FWIW, Craig Meyer of the Post-Gazette said a deal was in the works, but it wasn't yet official.

No, the Nittany Lions aren't a basketball power - or even a good program. They won 16 games last season, finished over .500 only once in the past five years, and don't have much of a recent track record in reaching the NCAA Tournament. They've been to the Big Dance only nine times in the history of the program. Contrast that with Pitt, which has been there nine times in the past 11 years alone.

While we don't know what this year will bring, on the surface, this doesn't look like an opponent that will likely provide Pitt with a major RPI boost in the non-conference. But as I've said before, like the Duquesne game, it is still one that should be played and is a rivalry game. In a sport with so many non-conference games, there's no reason the two sides can't play on a more regular basis.

This isn't exactly a contest against a marquee ranked opponent, but it's a game that should draw plenty of interest. Keep in mind, too, that one of the things mentioned in Kevin Stallings' introductory presser was that he doesn't schedule games for wins out of conference. By all indications, Stallings' out of conference schedule will likely include more teams from power conferences.

Location hasn't been mentioned yet and as SB Nation's Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries says, we don't yet know if it's a game that would be part of the ACC-B1G Challenge yet. An intriguing option being discussed among fans is that it could even be a neutral site game.

Adam Bittner, Penn State alum and previously of this site thinks a partnership could be established with games played at a neutral location with better recruiting ties (i.e. New York, Philly, etc.). It's an intriguing thought that would surely benefit both programs in recruiting, but I'm also not sure I'm crazy about, as he mentions, the fans not having the opportunity to see those games on the home courts. A Pitt-Penn State game isn't exactly North Carolina-Duke, but I can't imagine those games being played in, say, Madison Square Garden. Consider, too, that Penn State would probably have more of a home court advantage there due to its massive alumni base and since games in New York or Philly are shorter trips.

Overall, I like the game coming back. I never had much of a problem with Jamie Dixon's scheduling that routinely lined up easier opponents since the team always had such a difficult Big East/ACC schedule. But I'll take a game against Penn State any day of the week as opposed to many of the games that have appeared on the Panthers' non-conference slate over the years.

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