For the first time since roughly halfway through the 2015-2016 season, the Pittsburgh Panthers men’s basketball team has found themselves ranked in the AP top-25 poll. The Panthers come in at #25 this week, fresh off a win over Georgia Tech that was followed by domination of Syracuse in front of a packed Pete crowd.
POLL ALERT: Houston, Alabama, Kansas top AP Top 25, Marquette up to No. 6; No. 25 Pitt in poll for first time since 2016.— AP Top 25 (@AP_Top25) February 27, 2023
Full poll: https://t.co/ZJG5mgWrsa pic.twitter.com/Wo8uWlrInA
As the commentators of the Pitt-Syracuse game frequently alluded to, this ranking should come as no shock to Panthers fans. This team has been one of the 25 best in the country for some time now, it just took the national media some time to catch up with something that the Panther faithful already knew.
At 21-8 (14-4 ACC) the Panthers turned an ugly 1-3 start into something of a miraculous season, and with a week to go in the ACC regular season slate it’s time they finally got some recognition for it. Pitt is one win away from clinching a share of an ACC regular season championship (as well as the one seed in the ACC tournament) for the first time in program history, and with a win in the regular season finale at Miami, they could win the league by two full games.
If the Panthers season was replicated by a program like Duke, North Carolina, or even Syracuse you could make the argument that the national attitude towards the ACC may be a little different than it currently is. With an identical resume to the current Panthers, those teams likely wouldn’t have to wait this long to have been ranked either.
RANKED‼️— Oakland Zoo (@OaklandZoo) February 27, 2023
For the first time in 7 years, your Pitt Panthers check into the @AP_Top25
So if the AP poll is your introduction to the fact that the Pitt Panthers are indeed a good basketball team, welcome to something that we already knew. Although ESPN’s Joe Lunardi listed Pitt as “on the bubble” in his last edition of bracketology, the national disrespect only serves as fuel for a gritty Panther team that is going to shock some folks come March Madness. As someone who worships at the altar of analytics 99.99% of the time, I can say beyond any reasonable doubt that KENPOM and the NET are wrong about the Panthers.
Thanks to outstanding seasons from a fleet of transfer names that have quickly found spots in the heart of Pitt faithful, and under the guidance of Coach Jeff Capel in what’s likely to be an ACC Coach of the Year season, basketball is back in Pittsburgh. This is just the beginning, folks.