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 CBSSports.com 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 CBSSports.com 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.