On Tuesday, ESPN.com released its burning questions for the ACC basketball season on Tuesday. Over to the right, they also added their preseason ACC basketball power rankings. I don’t know if those were recently released or if they’d been out for a while but, to date, I don’t recall seeing them.
While the Panthers may now be headed in the right direction under new head coach Jeff Capel, big things aren’t yet expected of the team. The site’s preseason conference power rankings have the Panthers in last place.
I don’t know that the Panthers will again be last in the conference as they were last season. But after going winless in ACC play, Pitt not only finished last in 2017-18 but were four games behind the next to last team, Wake Forest, who managed four conference victories. Given that, as well as the team’s youth, it’s completely understandable why not much is expected of the program for next season.
I do believe this team has some nice pieces. But it’s really difficult to look at the roster, look at the difficult schedule, and declare with any type of certainty that they will be good enough to win a few ACC games and not finish last. I don’t see them going winless again because that requires quite a bit of bad circumstances to do that twice in a row. But will they win at least 3-4 ACC games and avoid the basement? I’d like to think so but that’s based more on hope than any real data suggesting that the team has improved because we just haven’t seen many of these guys yet. The Panthers also lost some of their better players from last season as well in Parker Stewart, Marcus Carr, and, when healthy, Ryan Luther.
We won’t really know more about this team until they start playing some actual games. But in the meantime, you can expect similar types of national projections and that’s more than fair.