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Pitt coach Jamie Dixon’s rep as a weak scheduler won’t change next season

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There may not be a program in the country that is more notorious for their weak non-conference scheduling that Pitt.

In the 11 seasons that Jamie Dixon has been the head coach of the Panthers, they’ve averaged a KenPom non-conference schedule strength of 250.1. Their highest ranking during those 11 years was 129th back in 2007. Only three times in Dixon’s tenure has their non-conference SOS been in the top 200, none of which were in the last five years. In 2012-2013, only seven teams played a weaker non-conference schedule.

While this has allowed Dixon to rack up wins, it has drawn the ire of national media pundits on every medium and annually hurts Pitt’s seeding in the NCAA tournament.

On Tuesday, the Panthers announced their 2014-2015 non-conference schedule:

  • Nov. 14: vs. Niagara
  • Nov. 16: vs. Samford
  • Nov. 21: at Hawaii
  • Nov. 24-26: Maui Invitational (teams in field: Arizona, BYU, Chaminade, Kansas State, Missouri, Purdue and San Diego State)
  • Dec. 2: at Indiana (ACC/Big Ten Challenge)
  • Dec. 5: vs. Duquesne (neutral court)
  • Dec. 13: vs. St. Bonaventure
  • Dec. 17: vs. Manhattan
  • Dec. 20: vs. Oakland
  • Dec. 23: vs. Holy Cross
  • Dec. 30: vs. Florida Gulf Coast
  • Feb. 2: vs. Bryant

The Maui Invitational is a nice addition, but it’s not a guarantee. If the Panthers lose their first game and wind up in the loser’s bracket, they could end up in a situation where they play Chaminade, a Division II program, and Purdue, who doesn’t look like they’ll finish in the top ten in the Big Ten next season.

A trip to Indiana is also nice, but it’s part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, meaning that Pitt had no say in the scheduling of that game. The only other road game on Pitt’s schedule is a visit to Hawaii, which comes as an acclimation to Hawaiian time for the Maui Invitational.

The schedule should be an upgrade of last season, but Dixon once again did not exactly putting together a murderer’s row. We’ll see how it affects them this season.

PHOTO: Ohio State’s new LeBron James shoe display

during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on January 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
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Ohio State has capitalized on its close relationship with NBA superstar LeBron James over the years and now has a new shoe display that should come in handy during recruiting.

The Buckeyes put out a tweet late this week with the display, calling themselves “THE LeBron school.” While this is something small, recruits like that the Buckeyes are tied into the best player in the world and it’s cool to them that Ohio State gets some exclusive gear.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.