Ken Pomeroy recently updated his rankings, and Pitt no longer places last among the three Division I basketball programs in the Pittsburgh area. That change came after Robert Morris suffered a blowout loss last Thursday at the hands of Mount St. Mary’s — a team Pitt was able to beat 82-78 on Dec. 5. It was further solidified after all three teams suffered losses on Saturday.
As of Tuesday morning, Robert Morris ranks last in the Pittsburgh area at 223rd, Pitt comes in at 208th and Duquesne retains its status as the city’s top team, according to Pomeroy, coming in at 173rd. With that said, the rankings are, of course, not definitive but serve as something of a barometer for programs that fall outside the AP Top 25, as all of Pittsburgh’s currently do.
Robert Morris was off to a hot start in conference play, as the Colonials were the No. 1 team in the Northeast Conference just three weeks ago. However, they’ve since stumbled through a rough patch, dropping four of their last five games, including Thursday’s loss to the Mountaineers that saw them down 36-6 in the first half before eventually losing 67-42.
Pitt’s win over Mount St. Mary’s was not without its issues, as the Panthers found themselves in a tight contest with a mid-major team that spilled into overtime. And while the Panthers were unable to throttle the Mountaineers as they might have in years past, they put on a decidedly better performance than the Colonials.
In addition to that, the Panthers have shown notable improvement over their last four matchups, as they finished within five points of a win against both NC State and Syracuse. Pitt also briefly led Miami 44-43 last Wednesday and looked surprisingly competitive in the first half against North Carolina, but the Panthers ultimately faded down the stretch in each of those games.
Meanwhile, over on the Bluff, Duquesne has lost some of its luster, dropping four of its last six games and falling to 6-5 in the Atlantic 10. However, that run includes a close loss decided by a last-second three-pointer to a Rhode Island team that has gone undefeated in conference and currently ranks 18th in the AP poll.
In fact, each of the Dukes’ last three losses have been by four points or fewer, and even with their chances at a conference title fading fast, it seems like Pomeroy has correctly identified them as the team that should be Pittsburgh’s most competitive for the remainder of the season.
With that said, Pitt would still likely emerge as the top team in the area if these rankings were based solely on probable outcomes of head-to-head matchups. And with Ryan Luther, Malik Ellison and Bryce Golden all expected to be on Pitt's roster for the next City Game, Pittsburgh's basketball hierarchy should see a return to normalcy by the end of 2018.