The Pittsburgh Panthers would have undeniably locked up an at-large bid Wednesday night with a win at young-but-improving Virginia Tech.
Didn’t work out that way.
Buzz Williams is slowly but surely building that team down in Blacksburg into a top-half-of-the-ACC group. The Hokies got to 17-13 with their 65-61 win over the Panthers. Zach LeDay had a game-high 20 for Va. Tech. Pitt shot 39 percent and was 3 of 21 from beyond the arc.
Jamie Dixon’s team is still in OK position. It probably needs to win just one more game to ensure its name will be called by Greg Gumbel some time after 5:30 p.m. ET on March 13. Here’s the tricky part: Pitt has to play at Georgia Tech on Saturday. The Yellow Jackets are 17-13 (7-10 in the ACC) and certainly will be favored to win that game. If Pitt loses, then the pressure’s really on to win a game in the ACC Tournament.
So keep an eye.
The Panthers are in this spot because 10-3 in the nonconference; a slate that rates 213th-toughest in the nation, according to KenPom.com. It’s not a putrid schedule, but even a nonconference SOS north of 120 would have Pitt in a lock status right now. Thankfully, the Panthers notched a win at home against Duke on Sunday. It’s only one of two wins for Pitt (Notre Dame being the other) against teams considered to be locks for the Big Dance.