When you are one of the top three seeds in a particular region, you hope or one thing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament...to be ignored. For the top three seeds, the only way your game will be of interest to a national audience is if you are losing or taken to the wire by an underdog team. Nationally, fans cared about Georgetown's game with Ohio and Villanova's nailbiter with Robert Morris. Those games mattered, whereas Kansas State, Kansas and Kentucky's games were probably never seen by you and you might even struggle to remember who they played. But for those teams, that means job well done.
Today, Jamie Dixon and Pittsburgh were completely ignored. I sat at a bar with the expressed goal of covering Pittsburgh's 89-66 win over Oakland for this site and somehow I found myself watching virtually none of the game. But for Jamie Dixon, that means the game went exactly as planned and his team is playing well. Pittsburgh went on a run midway through the first half, broke out a double-digit lead and never looked back, taking the fun out of the game for all but the diehard Pittsburgh fans.
However that has been what Dixon has done all season. There is likely no team in the country that is consistently more undervalued than Pittsburgh, and if you were to ask most college basketball fans to name the best programs in the country, the Panthers would almost never cross anyone's lips. But they came within a hair of the Final Four last year, lost virtually all their scoring and rebounding, and somehow came into the NCAA Tournament again as a #3 seed. And while the #2 seeded Villanova and #3 seeded Georgetown of the Big East both threw up stinkers last night, Dixon bored America with a game that took Oakland's will early and would not give it back.
So Pittsburgh now moves onto play Xavier in what will be one of the best games of the second round. As of yet, you may not have seen Pitt play at any point this season and unless you were forced, you didnt see them today. But on Sunday, take a gander at Jamie Dixon's squad as they go for their fourth straight Sweet Sixteen. My guess is that, unfortunately for Jamie Dixon, it will not be boring.