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January 15, 2014

Avoiding the Road Pitfall

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 8:45 am

Any time a ranked team loses to an unranked team it is a big deal in that news cycle. Regardless of how the other team is doing. Road or not. Conference game is minimized. Just look at Kentucky and Wisconsin going down last night. They played teams with NCAA Tournament expectations of their own on the road. They lost in close, tight games and it is treated as an amazing thing.

For that moment it looks like it, but when seen over the course of the whole season it hardly seems surprising. It was a conference loss on the road. No one expected either team to go undefeated in conference or only lose one or two games. In conference play, on average, if you lose no more than two home games and go 5-4 on the road, you are an upper-tier team.

From that perspective, if Pitt had lost last night at Georgia Tech it wouldn’t have been a huge shock. GT, like so many middle-of-the-pack teams plays far better at home than on the road.

In the moment, though, it would have been treated as a bigger deal since Pitt finally got ranked. By virtue of doing nothing but winning all but one game, Pitt pushed past the Seth Davises who wouldn’t rank or credit Pitt as punishment for the non-con. Or those who only saw the Cinci mess and base their entire POV on that game. A loss, though, to GT right after ranking would be their justification and proof they were right.

So, in that way, this was a big win for Pitt.

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