FanPost

Featured Fanpost: Don't Blame the ACC Move for Pitt Basketball's Downfall

This post was written by a reader - not the staff of Cardiac Hill.

The facts aren't pretty. With the 2017 season in the books, the last six seasons have yielded only one NCAA tournament win in three appearances. None of those appearances have seen Pitt with a seed lower than eight. The halcyon days of Pitt bball officially ended when Nasir Robinson committed that dumb foul. This reasonably has Pitt fans asking "what happened?".

One reason often cited is the move to the ACC. It's been argued that Pitt was uniquely built to succeed it the Big East and that for whatever reason that success could not translate to the ACC. While Pitt has undoubtedly been less successful in the ACC, the conference move is not a direct cause for the lack of basketball success. Here are three myths I've heard regarding Pitt bball and the move to the ACC.

1. The ACC plays better basketball.

If this is the case then all of the ACC newcomers would be struggling just like Pitt. As of mid-February Pitt had an all-time ACC win percentage of .462 while Notre Dame, Syracuse and Louisville have all been well over .500. Those of us over the age of 25 all have vivid memories of how good Big East hoops were last decade. Any notion that Pitt had been competing against inferior competition this whole time is absurd.

2. The gritty New York kids that helped build the program don't want to play in the ACC

With players like Chris Taft, Carl Krauser, Ronald Ramon, Keith Benjamin and Levance Fields from New York and Brandon Knight, Trey Woodall and Aston Gibbs across the Hudson in New Jersey, Pitt gained a reputation for finding gems in the NYC area. Those players mentioned had a reputation for thriving in tough, physical games that became synonymous with playing the Big East. Unfortunately, those players are endangered species.

From 2003 (the first Rivals 150 ranking) until 2009 high schools in NYC, it's suburbs and New Jersey combined for an average of 12.14 players ranked in the top 150 every year. Since 2010 that number has dropped to 8.5 and is trending downward.

Furthermore, the players coming out of the area now are attending new degree mills prep schools that have sprung up in recent years as opposed to the Catholic high schools Pitt proved so adept at recruiting. While I do not want to speak for Philly, Baltimore and DC it wouldn't surprise me if there's a similar phenomenon going on in those cities as well.

If the Northeast was still flush with talent and those kids do not want to play ACC ball, it would stand to reason that the old school Big East programs would be thriving. However, aside from Villanova the Midwest schools have largely been having their way in the Big East. It has nothing to do with Pitt losing out on big city kids and everything to do with the pipeline drying up.

3. Pitt's style is not conducive to the ACC

This argument probably has a little more weight than the other two but I'm still not buying it. If that were the fact then Pitt's first season in the ACC shouldn't have been it's most successful. Also, Virginia shouldn't be getting results basically doing all the same things Pitt was doing in the Big East. Virginia is actually proof that maybe Dixon should have doubled down on that style when we made the move instead of actively looking to recruit finesse front court players.

The lack of success since moving to the ACC has been undoubtedly frustrating but with the factors mentioned in section two, I'm led to believe this would have happened regardless of what conference we'd be playing in. Blame coaching, blame the player's attitudes but don't blame the move to the ACC.