|No Dixon, no Wright in the tournament? It's looking more likely, folks. (AP)|
By Jeff Goodman
Jay Wright and Jamie Dixon were supposed to, at one time before Pittsburgh decided to bolt for the ACC, carry the torch for the Big East once senior citizens Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun left.
Wright and Dixon have been two of the hottest coaches in America over the past few years. Both have spurned no shortage of big-time suitors and both have built their programs into national contenders.
Both may be watching the NCAA tournament as spectators this season.
Wright has led 'Nova to seven consecutive NCAA tournament appearances - including an Elite Eight in 2006 and a Final Four in 2009. But this current group is just 7-8 after last night's home loss to South Florida.
Dixon may not have led the Panthers to a Final Four, but he's been just as successful, going to the Big Dance in each of his eight seasons since taking the reigns from Ben Howland. Dixon actually had a chance to go to the Final Four, but lost to Wright in the Elite Eight in 2009.
Now his team has lost four straight for the first time in the Dixon Era following last night's road setback to DePaul. The Panthers sit -- along with 'Nova and Providence -- at the bottom of the Big East with an 0-3 mark.
Villanova, with a sub-.500 overall mark, has virtually no shot of getting to the NCAA tournament this season unless the Wildcats go on an insane run in the Big East.
Pittsburgh has dug itself quite a hole with losses to two mid-tier Big East teams (Cincinnati and Notre Dame) as well as DePaul. The Panthers most impressive win to date? I'm not sure there is one.
Dixon needs Travon Woodall back. He has missed eight games due to injury -- including the losses to Wagner, Cincinnati and Depaul. He played 18 minutes in the setback against Cincinnati, but was ineffective and has missed two games since.
With Woodall, the Panthers can still make a run. However, he needs to come back healthy soon. Next up is a home game against Rutgers, but then comes the key stretch whether Pittsburgh can jump back into the NCAA tournament equation. Four of its next five come against ranked teams - including road games at Marquette and Syracuse to start.
Just about everyone has down years. It happened to Kentucky in the Billy Clyde Gillispie Era, Jim Calhoun and Roy Williams were in the NIT not all that long ago.
But few saw this coming with both Dixon and Wright.