Still no Pitt basketball schedule. Most of the hold-up has been presumed to be because of the quest to find a halfway decent team to play at home after Pitt foolishly counted on playing in the SEC/Big East challenge. It also seems that the Preseason NIT hasn’t quite figured out the way they want to set things.
The other holdup is the preseason NIT, a four-game event. Pitt will play two of the following teams at the Petersen Events Center: Robert Morris, Fordham and Lehigh.
Given Pitt’s annual series with Robert Morris, I am guessing event organizers will do everything they can to make sure RMU is one of those teams to play the Panthers.
If the other team is Lehigh, the Panthers will be in for a tough game. Lehigh upset Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament in March and returns its best player – C.J. McCollum, who decided to return to school rather than enter his name in the NBA draft.
If Lehigh is the opponent it could end up being one of the most important games of the year. Teams in the preseason NIT have to go 2-0 in pool play to advance to the semifinal round at Madison Square Garden.
Should Pitt be upset, the Panthers would not get to play two of the following three BCS opponents (Michigan, Kansas State and Virginia) at the Garden and instead would have to settle for two more games against mid-major or low-major teams at the Petersen Events Center.
That could be disastrous for Pitt. It would be entirely possible then that the Panthers would not play one BCS conference opponent in non-conference play.
Yes, it’s a risk for Pitt to play Lehigh, but given the rest of their non-con it seems worth it. Pitt will need bumps to its non-con and Lehigh — beyond simply the games at MSG — would help. Just something to add to the urgency.