Pitt needed to make a statement.
The Panthers have the look and the feel of one of the best teams in the Big East. They have the size to pound the offensive glass, they don’t turn the ball over, their wings can really pass the ball and they have one of the most underrated back courts in the country with Tray Woodall and James Robinson.
But heading into Saturday’s showdown with Syracuse, the Panthers didn’t really have a great win.
Winning at Georgetown was nice, especially considering that it was by 28 points. But that came back when the Hoyas were still trying to figure out how to score, not over the Hoya team that’s won seven of their last eight. Beating Villanova and UConn certainly isn’t a bad thing, but those aren’t season-defining wins.
The Orange are a Final Four contender. They were leading the Big East up until yesterday. They’re currently ninth in the RPI. And thanks to Pitt’s 65-55 win over Syracuse on Saturday, the Panther’s RPI (currently 47th) should begin to reconcile somewhat with what Kenpom (Pitt is sixth in his rankings) and our eyes are telling us.
More importantly, Pitt has now won four of their last five games after starting Big East play 1-3. That means that, at 6-4 in the league, they are still within striking distance of Marquette, who is 6-1 in the conference but will be paying a visit to the Yum! Center this afternoon.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.