WASHINGTON, D.C. — Pittsburgh (KenPom: 43, RPI: 53, CBT Bracketology Seed: 9) won what turned into a critical game for their bubble standing. In what bordered on a play-out game, Pitt tried to blow a 14-point lead but, after Syracuse tied things up with a minute left, got back-to-back buckets from James Robinson to seal the 72-71 win.
The Panthers should be in the tournament at this point. They’ve got a pair of top 50 wins — Duke and at Notre Dame — and a 9-8 record against the Top 100. Throw in an RPI that will likely creep into the top 50 with this win, and the Panthers have all the makings of a team that slows into a No. 9 or No. 10 seed.
Syracuse (KP: 41, RPI: 60, CBT: 10), on the other hand, will be a fascinating case for the Selection Committee. The Orange currently sit at 19-13 on the season, and while they have a quartet of top 50 wins — at Duke, Texas A&M on a neutral, Notre Dame and St. Bonaventure — they also have three bad losses, headlined by a terrible loss to St. John’s, and a record that doesn’t exactly lend itself to inclusion in the tournament.
But Syracuse also went 4-5 in the nine games that Jim Boeheim was suspended this season.
“The basketball committee is not the infractions committee,” Boeheim said after the game. “Their job is to pick the best teams for the tournament. These guys had nothing to do with any of this and should be evaluated on how well they played.”
“They’ve been punished enough.”
The selection committee has said over and over again that will be a factor in the way that they evaluate the Orange profile.
“In Syracuse’s case, we recognize you have a Hall of Fame coach who has assembled his team, knows his team, conditions his coach,” committee chair Joe Castiglione said on a conference call today. “To pretend he’s not a difference maker would be a mistake.”
Syracuse could end up regretting that they lost this game, but there is reason to believe that they have a better chance of dancing that they are currently given credit for.
- Oregon State: The Beavers entered Wednesday on the cut line and not much changes for them after beating Arizona State. For now, it keeps them on the right side of the bubble and, in all likelihood, creates a play-in game on Thursday for OSU against Cal.
- USC: The Trojans weren’t totally safe going up against the Bruins in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament. After blowing out UCLA for the third time, this season, they should be just fine.
- Texas Tech: The Red Raiders lost to TCU in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament, an awful loss by any metric. The good news for Tubby Smith’s club is that their computer numbers are probably strong enough for them to survive the loss.