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It’s early, but Pitt is firmly in the middle of an ACC logjam — for now

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into the season, little was expected of the Pitt men’s basketball team. At least outside of Pittsburgh, anyway. It’s early but, so far, the Panthers find themselves right in the middle of a very crowded and always competitive conference.

Overall, Pitt is 12-6 on the season and 3-4 in the ACC. That ACC record might not sound great but consider that only three ACC teams, Duke, Louisville, and Florida State have fewer than three losses. Everyone else in the conference has at least that many, keeping Pitt (for now) within striking distance of them. Six teams in the conference have 3-4 or 4-3 records and those make up the effective middle. The three ACC wins, of course, have already equaled last year’s dismal mark.

The ACC standings, if you’ve not seen them in a while, look like this.

What does that mean? It means Pitt is doing just fine right now when you consider where this team is talent wise.

The obvious thing to point out here is that two of the Panthers’ three wins have come against North Carolina, which is a really bad team here. Currently, they’re in dead last place with only a single conference win. Thus, it’s hard to take this too seriously just yet since we’re not even to the halfway point of the conference schedule. But what is also worth noting is that Pitt’s schedule has not been without hurdles, either.

Three teams, Duke, Florida State, and Louisville, appear to be the crop of the ACC right now. Pitt has already faced them a combined three times with only two more games remaining against them (Duke and Florida State). And of course the Panthers defeated Florida State in the season opener. Pitt also has six games remaining with the teams below them in the overall standings.

The counter to that is that Pitt has also already faced Wake Forest and Miami, which are both probably two of the weaker teams in the ACC. The results of those games were both losses (albeit close ones). Point being, Pitt will almost certainly not defeat all of the weaker teams left on the schedule and they have a good many left against stronger teams as well.

What’s it all mean? Tough to say. We can safely say that Pitt is not among the elite of the ACC. Nor are they at the bottom where they’ve been the last couple of seasons. Almost anything would be an improvement but if the Panthers can finish somewhere in the middle of the conference, that would mark a significant step forward for the program.

I’d be lying if I said I thought a .500 conference finish was in this team’s future. Despite them hovering around that mark right now and holding a win against Florida State, I don’t see it. But for now, the Panthers are hanging in there and in better shape as a program than they were a year ago.

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