This is not a this team sucks post. Nor is it a, this team is so close post.
Pitt has a good basketball team. In any conference, they would be in the upper half. I honestly see them as a top-30 team. Just a top-30 team.
It’s been something strange. Usually a team like this would have a bad loss and a good win mixed in. Instead, Pitt has no bad losses and no really good win. There are nice wins like Clemson and Stanford. Heck, even the sweep of Maryland is decent. But they aren’t big wins.
Conversely, the losses are not killers. All four losses are to teams presently in the top-25. Virginia, Duke and Syracuse are all in the KenPom.com top-10. All four losses are to teams in the RPI top-20.
I don’t know if that reality makes things better or worse.
Two losses came on last second shots. Three of the games came down to the final minute (or second) with 9 points the total difference in those games. Even the Duke loss was very tight for the first 30 minutes before it got blown open.
It’s not like Pitt has gone down in losses like a big expectation team as Ohio State has to good and bad teams. Or Wisconsin losing at home to Northwestern. Nope. Pitt has been able to handle the teams below them with efficiency and minimal drama. It’s the team above them they haven’t been able to match.
Pulling down that defensive rebound off a Cinci drive rather than letting them get that put back. Kicking the ball out or being a little more patient going back up for a shot when Jamel Artis had a fantastic effort to grab that offensive rebound in the final seconds of the Virginia game.
A defensive stop here. A missed bunny there. A couple free throws. The three that rims out. The missed assignment on the defensive rotation. Those little mistakes that happen to any team during the course of a game. Feel so magnified as the margin of those losses have been so close.
Coming off the Virginia loss, it feels worse. It sucks to see that ceiling appear so obvious for the team. To be grimly aware of what the limits are. The added frustration of the Virginia loss is that it makes that ceiling look that much lower.
Pitt’s been good enough to play with some of the best teams. Just not good enough to beat them.