Blog Entry

From No. 1 in the nation to No. 4 in the Big East

Posted on: February 24, 2009 10:28 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2009 12:45 am

Well that didn't last long.

Roughly 30 hours after Pittsburgh ascended to No. 1 in the national polls, the Panthers fell on their face Tuesday night, losing 81-73 at Providence. Put another way, the team that started Tuesday with what was clearly the country's best body of work ended Tuesday with a loss to a team (Providence) that opened the season with a loss to Northeastern and entered this week with a 4-11 record against schools in the Top 100 of the RPI (and only one victory against the Top 50).


Some of this is just basketball, of course, more specifically what tends to happen to teams from power leagues regardless of their previous or future achievements. Remember, it was two years ago this week when Florida (i.e., the eventual 2007 national champion) lost three of four outings to Vanderbilt, LSU and Tennessee, and a year ago this week when Kansas (i.e., the eventual 2008 national champion) lost to Oklahoma State. Those inexplicable developments obviously didn't impact the big picture for Billy Donovan or Bill Self, and that's something in which Jamie Dixon can take solace. But this is still a rough defeat for the Panthers because it gives them a third Big East loss and pushes them from first to fourth in the league standings, and when you're enjoying an unprecedented amount of attention like Pittsburgh spent last week enjoying it's a downer to watch it all go away so quickly and without warning.

That said, it's just one game.

Just one loss.

And the reality is that the Panthers -- with a national-best six victories against the Top 25 of the RPI -- are still in solid shape to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. That's the good news. But their margin for error has become smaller because of this awful performance Tuesday night, and now Connecticut, North Carolina, Memphis and perhaps even Louisville or Marquette  -- honestly, who knows? -- are in position to possibly become the seventh new No. 1 when the polls are updated next week, although it's getting to the point where it's difficult to find anybody who seems worthy of the honor.




Category: NCAAB

Since: Feb 2, 2009
Posted on: February 27, 2009 9:48 pm

From No. 1 in the nation to No. 4 in the Big East

I'm thinking that on any given day or night, there are a number of Big East teams that can beat any other Big East team and, probably, any other team in the country.  In that number are Louisville, UConn, Pitt, Villanova, and Marquette.  Of these teams, Marquette has lost to Tennessee, USF, and Dayton (plus 'Nova and UConn); Louisville has lost to Western Kentucky, Minnestoa, and UNLV (plus UConn and Notre Dame); Pitt has lost to PC, Louisville, and 'Nova (but beat UConn); 'Nova has lost to WVU along with Marquette, Louisville, UConn, and Texas but beat Pitt.  UConn has lost twice, to Georgetown and Pitt.  Granted, Georgetown has had a very rough road since beating the Huskies, but the Hoyas were ranked 8th in the Coaches Poll at the time they beat UConn.

So who among the Big East contenders is at the top of the heap?  Right now it's the Huskies.  Louisville was dumped unceremoniously at home by the Huskies, so they are probably not a good bet for a #1 ranking or a #1 seed.  Marquette has lost to USF and Dayton, two less-than-stellar teams--and they lost at home to UConn.  Again, not a great recommendation for a #1 ranking or seed.  'Nova?  Good team, fairly weak resume.  Pitt is a good bet for both a #1 ranking and #1 seed since they've beaten the Huskies, but they also lost to Providence and the already discounted Wildcats from Philly. 

UConn's options on both offense and defense have been diminished with the loss of Jerome Dyson, and Marquette's point guard is gone for the remainder of the season.  Pitt is in good shape physically and won't have to try to fill in for essential players.  So from a strictly physical standpoint, Pitt is in better shape to compete than are the Huskies or the Golden Eagles. 

So objectively speaking, Louisville is not the best bet to win the Big East regular season or the BE tournament, but that doesn't mean that they are out of the running.  In my first sentence, I said that the Cardinals are capable of beating both Pitt (they've already done it) and the Huskies.

With all that said, whoever wins at Pitt on March 7th will likely win the Big East regular season and a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament . . . unless Notre Dame beats the Huskies on Feb. 28.





Since: Sep 25, 2008
Posted on: February 25, 2009 5:23 pm

From No. 1 in the nation to No. 4 in the Big East

That makes sense.  Providence wasn't really trying for the first 20 games, but now that it's "crunch time" they pulled out all the stops to become 3x better than before.

My guess:  Its college basketball, upsets are a very common part of the game.  Due to the format of the NCAA tourney, the NC in this sport isn't necessarily the best team in the country, but the one that can consistantly "handle their business" during the early rounds of the tourney.  Consistency is the primary factor when rating top teams, which teams are least likely to be upset?

Just my thoughts.

Since: Jan 15, 2007
Posted on: February 25, 2009 4:29 pm

From No. 1 in the nation to No. 4 in the Big East


Yet OU got blasted for their losses, everyone proclaiming them "average" or a "one man show" when in fact without Griffin they STILL played great basketball and had a chance in both games.

Not really...they moved down what, one or two spots in the poll?  The way he stated it, Pitt should be punished MORE for their loss, for no real reason.  Both teams still belong in the top 5...


Every team in the nation is significantly worse without its best player...that's the nature of a 5-on-5 game.


Since: Jan 15, 2007
Posted on: February 25, 2009 4:20 pm

From No. 1 in the nation to No. 4 in the Big East

The game was called really tight by the refs.  Pitt can't adjust to non physical games and this game was a perfect example of this.  I'm not saying that this team won't go further this year, they are a great team.  But dixon and his boys need to make adjustments and need to understand that come ncaa tourney time, the games will be called tighter. Did you even WATCH this game?  It was a very physical game, but Pitt didn't take care of the ball.  The result had nothing to do with fouls and everything to do with turnovers.  I don't see why people can't get their minds around that...oh right, because they see what they expect to.


Since: Feb 2, 2009
Posted on: February 25, 2009 4:06 pm

From No. 1 in the nation to No. 4 in the Big East

I agree.....Wake was actually ranked 8th in the AP poll before the Duke game and then loses at Duke on a Sunday night with very little student support/attendence and gives Duke all they can handle in a close game. Result, they drop 5 spots to 13th....go figure!  

Since: Jul 24, 2007
Posted on: February 25, 2009 2:59 pm

From No. 1 in the nation to No. 4 in the Big East

Providence will get the love when they deserve it. This year they don't. They beat Pitt which might help them get into the tournament. You should be happy about that. They lost to Northeastern at home. Their RPI is suspect at best. A win against Syracuse isn't much to brag about either. Syracuse, as most of the big east has and still is, over rated.

Since: Dec 1, 2006
Posted on: February 25, 2009 1:47 pm

From No. 1 in the nation to No. 4 in the Big East

PC is equivalent to Texas in the grand scheme of things.  Maybe not in recent years, maybe not earlier this year when PC lost to Northeastern, but right now, equivalent.  I hate to beg the question, but for one thing--well, PC beat Pitt, didn't they?  Texas did not beat Pitt.  And based on what we usually see on the court (not on any one game in either case, but on the usual performance) when Pitt plays and when Oklahoma plays, Pitt is better than Oklahoma.

Furthermore does anyone not think Blair would put on a show against Griffin?  Blair always lights it up against highly touted opponents.  How many good players on good teams thought they were stars this season until they ran into Blair?  Half a dozen?

Everyone loses a few times.  The rankings are an illogical system where we say if you lost this week, you must not be the best team in the country--even though at the outset we all understood that the best team in the country was occasionally going to lose.  Not only should this loss by itself not at all jeopardize Pitt's chance at a No. 1  seed, it should not even really make anybody think they are not the best team in the country.  Not by itself, it shouldn't.  Pitt has lost 3 games to NCAA tournament teams--at-large, big-conference teams, one of which may be a No. 1 seed.  This is college basketball, not college football, and everybody loses a few.


Since: Aug 15, 2008
Posted on: February 25, 2009 1:41 pm

From No. 1 in the nation to No. 4 in the Big East

funny, i heard the same thing last year about memphis.  actually, i believe i heard memphis would lose to pitt. funny, pitt lost to mich. st, which got manhandled my memphis out of the s***y conference.  this is a new year indeed, but i thought i'd add some perspective to your last thought in your comment. nova 85,  don't look for history to repeat itself if you think nova is going to upset higher seeds all the way to the final 4 again.  cindi lauper was making hits in 85, what have you done for me lately...............janet made that around the time nova was last in the finals................

Since: Mar 3, 2007
Posted on: February 25, 2009 1:40 pm

From No. 1 in the nation to No. 4 in the Big East

pittblaster I think his point was that two of OUs losses came without their best player. Do you think Pittsburg beats Uconn without Blair? Or for that matter, do you think Pittsburgh would have at least 2 more losses without Blair?

Yet OU got blasted for their losses, everyone proclaiming them "average" or a "one man show" when in fact without Griffin they STILL played great basketball and had a chance in both games.

None of the teams are immune from a painful or damaging loss if they dont have their best player even playing in the game. Pitt, UConn, UNC, OU all need their best players to beat the upper echelon teams. Same goes for almost every team in the nation.

CT Sports Picks
Since: Oct 6, 2008
Posted on: February 25, 2009 1:32 pm
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