Pittsburgh handles Duke easily, gets first top-25 RPI victory of season

Pittsburgh has remained in just about every projected bracket throughout this season — mostly because of its ability to avoid terrible losses in a year where mediocrity translates as pretty good. In other words, the bracket has 68 lines on it, and somebody has to fill those lines. So Pitt has been safely in all along, according to most, thanks to a resume that features just two losses to schools ranked outside of the top 20 of the current AP poll.

Still, the Panthers entered this weekend badly in need of a signature win.

They needed one for the selection committee, first and foremost. But they also needed one for their critics. Because when your record vs. the top 25 becomes a bullet point everybody references, well, that’s not ideal. And here was Pitt’s bullet point Sunday morning:

  • Record vs. Top 25 of the RPI: 0-6

See, that’s not a good look, is it?

And, truthfully, the updated version isn’t much better. But at least Sunday afternoon’s 76-62 victory over No. 15 Duke changed that 0 to a 1. So now folks can stop asking the question folks have been asking all season each time Pittsburgh enters a conversation.

What’s the name of the good team Pitt has beaten again?

Answer: Duke

That question finally has an answer. And the answer is Duke.

So Pittsburgh is now 20-8 overall and 9-7 in the ACC with two coin-flip games — Wednesday at Virginia Tech, then Saturday at Georgia Tech — remaining on its regular-season schedule. Odds are, the Panthers will be fine no matter what. But at least a split in those contests should essentially guarantee a spot for them in the NCAA Tournament.

As for Duke, frankly, it was just a bad day on the road.

The Blue Devils trailed 10-0 four minutes into the game and never seriously threatened Pitt at any point going forward. They grabbed fewer defensive rebounds (13) than Pitt grabbed offensive rebounds (16), and they missed 21 of the 32 3-point shots they attempted.

The only good news for Duke?

Grayson Allen didn’t trip anybody.

And he finished with a game-high 22 points.

Pitt picked up a signature win vs. Duke.(USATSI)
Pitt picked up a signature win vs. Duke. (USATSI)

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