At the beginning of last week I was preparing to write a blog about how Pitt looked like it was peaking at the right time. This was just after a double-digit win against Duke at the Pete.
I thought… Maybe that was a Pitt team that could finish the season with wins in four of its last five games — the only loss being to a ranked Louisville team in a game Pitt could have (and probably should have) won.
Maybe this was a Pitt team that could take recent strong play from leaders James Robinson, Mike Young, and Jamel Artis and make some noise in the ACC Tournament. The depth production from the likes of Chris Jones, Sheldon Jeter, and Ryan Luther had me feeling like that potential run was about to be a real thing.
I’m glad I waited to write that post.
Rather than go ahead and publish, I decided to wait and see what Pitt had to offer on Wednesday at Virginia Tech.
They didn’t have much.
I still thought they’d make up for that game over the weekend at Georgia Tech and help us forget about any doubt we may have.
Again, they didn’t have much.
And now I have a ton of doubts.
This wasn’t a season in which I thought Pitt would win the ACC or go on any kind of legendary tournament run. However, with the way the season started, it was one I thought Pitt could use to take a strong step forward and finish in the top third of the conference.
I probably should have known better, considering how light Pitt’s non-conference schedule was early in the season. However, the offensive abilities Pitt showcased had me encouraged. And those offensive abilities appeared to be resurfacing before this past week.
Losses to Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech are hard to explain, and now I’m searching for answers.
Part of me still believes in Pitt. Part of me saw how good the Panthers can be when everything clicks. The Duke game was proof.
However, too often we’ve seen struggles against top-tier teams. Pitt’s first loss to Louisville as well as the one at North Carolina were games where the doors were completely blown off. There was nothing to feel positive about, and those losses made you think Pitt just can’t match up.
Losses at Miami and back at home against Louisville the second time around featured a Pitt team that competed from start to finish, but the Panthers were unable to get any breaks, and some poor decision making at crucial times ended up costing them.
So we’ve seen all three versions of Pitt. The one that can beat anyone, the one that can’t beat anyone, and the one that will compete for all 40 minutes.
Which version will show up in D.C?
I certainly hope one of the better versions.
Pitt has looked as good against Syracuse as it has against anyone this season with two wins, so that’s something to feel happy about, as the Panthers and Orange square off on Wednesday. At the same time, we all know how hard it can be to beat the same team three times (in any sport) in one season.
Pitt vs. Syracuse in the ACC Tournament is basically just like the Panthers’ season as a whole: it’s impossible to predict.
One win will seal an NCAA Tournament spot. One loss will make us all sit on pins and needles until the NCAA Tournament field is released.
The first scenario is what we’re all hoping for.
The second would probably be more fitting.