With its 96-76 win over Syracuse on Saturday afternoon, Pitt not only overcame one of its most troublesome opponents in recent years but also turned some heads and helped its case for an NCAA tournament berth. Specifically, Pitt jumped 16 spots in the NET rankings, going from 64th to 48th. It also dropped Syracuse from 49th to 61st.
The occasion marks the first time that Pitt has cracked the top 50 this season, and it comes at a point when the team has played to a 7-2 record, with a 2-0 mark against Quadrant 1 opponents and a 2-1 mark against Quadrant 2 programs. But the team also has a notable blemish on its record, as it is 2-1 against Quadrant 4 teams, with the loss coming to St. Francis. Pitt is now the highest-ranked team to have lost to a Quadrant 4 opponent, and one of just seven teams in the top 100 to have suffered a loss to such a team so far.
Another notable aspect of Pitt’s current NET ranking is that the team outranks blue bloods like Indiana (56th), Michigan State (83rd), Duke (93rd) and Kentucky (97th). Pitt is also the sixth-ranked ACC team, behind Virginia (10th), Clemson (31st), Louisville (35th), Virginia Tech (38th) and Florida State (40th).
In addition to the NET rankings, Pitt also moved up in the Ken Pomeroy rankings and the Jeff Sagarin rankings. However, the team’s gains were far more modest. In the Pomeroy rankings, Pitt moved from 76th to 67th, and in the Sagarin rankings, Pitt moved from 73rd to 66th. Oddly, both rankings still place Syracuse ahead of Pitt, as Syracuse only fell from 39th to 51st in the Pomeroy rankings and from 46th to 54th in the Sagarin rankings.
In addition to losing to Pitt twice, Syracuse barely edged Bryant 85-84 in its season opener and has yet to prove itself against top-level opponents, with losses to Rutgers and North Carolina. So it remains to be seen if the 7-4 team will recover from its recent stumbles, and if not, how long it will be considered one of the top 64 teams in the country.
With all that said, Pitt is beginning to generate some tournament buzz despite its Pomeroy and Sagarin rankings, as the team is considered one of the first four out for the 2021 NCAA tournament, according to Joe Lunardi of ESPN, as well as a potential 12th seed in the tournament by Mike DeCourcy of Fox Sports. So if Pitt can keep up this level of play, it could potentially earn its first NCAA tournament berth since 2016.