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Another early tourney exit for Pitt; Dixon job speculation can begin

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

SALT LAKE CITY -- Slow and ugly seldom wins the race -- or the bracket.

Pittsburgh was the slowest team in this year's NCAA tournament (60.2 possessions per game), but that pace wasn't made for the long run. I'm using past tense with the Panthers because their existence in the bracket is no more. Turns out Pitt just couldn't wait to head to the ACC.

But will Jamie Dixon join them?

After going one-and-out in last week's Big East tournament, the No. 8 Panthers saved one of their worst performances of the season for Thursday's Round-of-64 loss to Wichita State. The Shockers won 73-55 and will play the winner of Gonzaga-Southern on Saturday.

Dixon's record in the NCAA tournament is now 10-9, and so we can begin to wonder if he'll stick with the program that he has been at since 2003, his only head-coaching gig, or if a change is coming in the next few weeks. USC is the rumor. Look no further than Dixon's former players openly discussing this -- during the game -- on Twitter.

Dixon's first question in the press conference following the loss was about his future with Pittsburgh. He let out a guffaw at the immediacy of the question, paused for about seven seconds, then said, "I mean ... I just had my point guard break down here and it's the farthest [sic] thing from my mind."

Dixon later added: "I'm looking forward to watching these guys and coaching these guys and them being better next year. I can't wait because I know we have a great group and I'm excited about it."

Of all the coaching rumors that the sport will have from now through mid-April, Dixon's status will be among the biggest topics. Dixon's point guard quote was referring to Tray Woodall, who let out a gush of emotion and burst of tears.

"It's a bitter taste in my mouth to end my career with one of the worst games I've ever played in my history," Woodall said. "I'm sorry I let my team down. One of the worst games I've ever played."

Regarding the game: An ugly barrage of missed 3-pointers dominated the action. And there were so many -- too many -- trips to the foul line (61) for both teams. And a miserable flagrant 1 call against Pitt's Lamar Patterson that emphasized just how badly that rule needs to be changed. Pitt has often played ugly but rarely as hideous as this. Wichita State wasn't much better, only more effective in spurts and opportunistic in turning the Panthers over with 10 steals. But, folks, it was ugly. Just ask ... another former Pitt player!

I'm typing this recap with my eyes closed because Pitt made me not want to see the world for a little while. Someone let me know when everything's going to be OK.

For Gregg Marshall, a sweet victory after getting upset as a fifth seed (by VCU) in the 2012 tournament. Speaking of jobs, he'll be up for a few more this spring as well. The win is the first in the big bracket for his program since it reached the Sweet 16 in 2006. He had 76 text messages waiting for him after the game ended. I know because he's sitting next to me on press row, scouting Gonzaga-Southern, as I finish my write-thru.


For more college basketball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCBB on Twitter, like us on Facebook and subscribe to the thrice-a-week podcast on iTunes. You can follow Matt Norlander on Twitter here: @MattNorlander.

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