NCAA tournament team previews: Pittsburgh Panthers
As part of its preview of the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team's national rank. For more teams, click here.
Record: 25-9, 11-7 in Atlantic Coast Conference
Adjusted offense / Adjusted defense: 115.2 (18th) / 96.4 (34th)
Seed: No. 9 in South
Impact player: Lamar Patterson, senior forward. 17.6 ppg, 4.8 reb, 4.3 ast, .397 3pt
The Case For:
With Lamar Patterson playing at his best and power forward Talib Zanna (12.9 ppg, 8.8 reb) collecting boards left and right, the Panthers, who started 20-4, have been able to get comfortable again after flirting with the bubble. Cameron Wright and James Robinson are hitting shots and freshman guard Josh Newkirk has emerged to be a valuable contributor down the stretch. Pitt is going to stay in most games based solely on how disciplined it is on both sides of the ball. Jamie Dixon's teams emphasize fundamentals and being in the right spot on the floor. Beating North Carolina in the ACC tournament gave the Panthers a signature win they desperately needed, and also a boost of confidence heading into the NCAAs.
The Case Against:
Heading into the ACC tournament, Pittsburgh had not beaten a team that was a lock for the Big Dance and it still wound up with just two wins against the field of 68 in nine tries. As evidenced in the UNC game in Greensboro, Pittsburgh doesn't handle pressure defense well, and if it's not hitting shots, it can let a game get away too easily.
SI prediction: Beat Colorado in second round, lose to Florida in third roundView complete bracket predictions from SI.com's panel of experts