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May 4, 2016

The Cardiac Hill blog is running a “Bracket of Pitt” series that has  ‘all things Pitt” subjects listed much like we see during the college basketball NCAA tournaments.  Here is how they describe what they are going to do:

“The Cardiac Hill Podcast has a new segment; the Bracket of Pitt. It’s a 64-item bracket of everything Pitt. People, places, things, etc., basically if it has anything to do with the University of Pittsburgh, it’s in. I’ll be hosting the tournament primarily with Jim Hammett of Cardiac Hill. We’ll post the first episode here (and on SoundCloud) tomorrow with me & Jim discussing the bracket and you can vote for the matchups @CoreyECohen on Twitter; one vote per person. Each week we’ll put out a new episode discussing your results and advance the bracket accordingly! Let’s make some May Madness here at Cardiac Hill, we can’t wait to debut the #BracketOfPitt!”

This sounds like an original and fun idea and will fill up some of the Pitt sports dead time from now until the football Fall Camp opens up in early August.  Here is what the bracket looks like as a snapshot but click on this link to see the details.

Cardiac resized

Guess The Pitt Blather didn’t make the cut.

November 15, 2015

Pitt Will Not Be Ranked This Week

Filed under: Football,Polls — Chas @ 10:12 am

This question was posed to me last night. I summarily dismissed it, because I was on the couch watching the Oklahoma-Baylor game. I didn’t feel like grabbing my laptop to dig too deep. So why not now? Just for you, Pauly P.

Let’s start with the basics. Here are all the rankings from this past week. Just sticking to the AP and Coaches polls. Only 3 teams in those top-25s lost yesterday: UCLA (18/18), Temple (21/21) and Memphis (25/25).

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January 14, 2014

Ranked, Honored and the Road

Filed under: Basketball,Honors,Players,Polls — Chas @ 8:26 am

Welp, Pitt finally cracks the AP and Coaches Polls. Coming in at #22 and #21 respectively. Huzzah!

Lamar Patterson was named ACC Player of the Week for the second time this season. It oddly feels like his performance is being taken for granted. We acknowledge he is playing really well. That this team would be in big trouble if he hadn’t raised his game — which is really impressive when you think about the steady improvement he has shown in the past three seasons. Each year, getting better. Improving facets of his game and his conditioning. And the improved maturity. And versatility.

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September 8, 2010

Briefly on Polls

Filed under: Football,Media,Polls — Chas @ 1:15 pm

Because I don’t really care.

Yes, Pitt dropped out of the polls. From 15th in preseason polls to unranked. Who didn’t see it coming? Polls are of questionable value, other than extra attention. Preseason and the first few weeks even more so.

A preseason poll is little more than a guesstimate of how good you think a team is. Pitt lost and even if it was to a good team on the road, it is still a loss and most teams outside of the top-10 that lost that way would fall out of the rankings.

You can complain about teams beating up on 1-AA moving up in the rankings, but there is no real reason to take them out. It’s really just reshuffling some deck chairs in the early going. Trying to feel out things.

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August 23, 2010

Assorted Links

Filed under: Bloggers,Conference,Football,Non-BCS,Polls — Chas @ 3:12 pm

Football stuff that indirectly relates to Pitt and the Big East that are worth noting.

The AP has redesigned their poll page. It’s better, and easier to read individual ballots by voters, but Pollspeak is still the better option because of its versatility. The trump for Pollspeak is the fact that you can see on one webpage how all voters voted in a particular week for a team. That is much easier to figure out which voters hate your team or are clueless homers (I’m looking at you, Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune for not ranking Pitt, but putting ND #22).

Relating to the MWC/WAC and BYU stuff from last week, one of the things that came out near the end of the week were talks between the MWC and C-USA.

Two sources with knowledge of the discussions told the Orlando Sentinel on Thursday one of the scenarios being discussed includes a possible merger of 20 teams from the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA, with the champion claiming an automatic BCS bowl bid. However, the sources stated such an agreement is complex, could easily fall apart and is far from being completed.

That would be something interesting. As both conferences also have TV deals that involve CBS media (C-USA on CBS College Sports and WMC’s “Mtn.” channel has CBS as a partner), there could be something to this.

The benefits to C-USA are obvious. Keeps the MWC from raiding their conference for Houston or SMU or Southern Miss. It also gives the conference a shot at BCS bowls. Not a great shot, but far better than they have right now.

The benefit of this alliance for the MWC is less clear, other than to provide some more protection if BYU decides to bolt or TCU gets a call from the Big 12/10 at some point. For the MWC, the benefits may be more long-term.

In case you missed it, this is a fine timeline of Big East expansion rumors in history. And from the Mountain West, well-learned advice on dating Cougars.

August 12, 2010

Additional Rankings/Pollings

Filed under: Football,Polls,Power Rankings — Chas @ 11:25 am

They take less and less meaning as the start of the season gets closer, but here are some more preseason rankings, power polls and other rating-esque things.

First up, the NY Times backed Pre-Snap Read ranks Pitt at #29.

Why No. 29 and not, say, around No. 15, where Pittsburgh ended last season? I understand your puzzlement. Bear with me as I attempt to explain this point: Pittsburgh can still win the Big East. Getting West Virginia at home is key, with that game again going far towards determining the conference champion. In fact, it hard not to view the Panthers as the Big East favorite, what with this team’s high level of returning talent on both sides of the ball. … Still, the lack of a proven quarterback is a concern. So is the interior of the offensive line; the interior of the defensive line will also break in new starters, but that’s far less of a worry. The Panthers must find two new starters at cornerback: it will be enormous for this defense if Imoru can step up immediately. All told, while I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see the Panthers take the Big East, the handful of new starters and a difficult non-conference schedule will make it difficult for this team to match last season’s win total.

The question marks and the non-con are the issue. That is also why Phil Steele has Pitt at #27 even as he picked Pitt to win the Big East.

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August 3, 2010

Embrace the Pressure

Filed under: Big East,Conference,Football,Media,Polls — Chas @ 9:05 am

In case you were somehow thinking that Pitt would not be the preseason favorite of the Big East, the media poll results blew that out of the water.

1. Pittsburgh (22 first-place votes) 190
2. Cincinnati 142
West Virginia (1) 142
4. Connecticut (1) 131
5. Rutgers 99
6. USF 79
7. Syracuse 41
8. Louisville 40

That’s 22 first place votes out of 24 for Pitt. The Panthers, narrowly were the choice last year. In the prior 19 years of Big East football media polls, the preseason pick has won it only 9 times.

Cinci gets respect and no respect. Everyone expects them near the top of the Big East, but no one thinks they will win it.

The one guy who voted UConn? A USF beat writer.

USF getting knocked down to 6th is something of a surprise as Brian Bennett has noted the Bulls have been a bit overrated at times — probably owing to their potential with Florida talent. At least that they were that far back from 5th and Rutgers.

Rutgers is roughly where they were predicted in the preseason mags.

Congrats to Syracuse for finally not being picked last in the conference.

May 28, 2010

Still no official word from Pitt on hiring Pat Skerry as the new assistant. Providence, though, has acknowledged it.

Providence College Head Coach Keno Davis will look to replace assistant coach Pat Skerry, who left to take the assistant position at the University of Pittsburgh. Davis believes that the Friars are in a good position to bring in a top assistant coach who can help move the program forward.

“I appreciate the opportunity to have had Pat work with us the last two seasons,” Davis said.

Early reports are that the Friars might replace Skerry with ex-Iowa player and present University of Illinois-Springfield Prairie Stars (Div. II) head coach Kevin Gamble. Yet that same story contradicts with the fact that Davis is looking for a coach with East Coast ties. His only connection to the East was 6 years with the Celtics in the 90s.

Pitt released info on the highest paid individuals at the school. No shock that Coach Dixon is the highest paid employee.

The report says Mr. Dixon, head basketball coach, was the highest paid with $1,389,951 in total earnings, including $629,792 in base pay; $603,000 in bonus and incentive income as well as other compensation, some deferred.

This was for 2008. Not last year. So I imagine it’s a bit higher. Not sure if that includes the money he earns for basketball camps and Nike sponsorship money.

VegasWatch aggregates the various preseason polls and finds Pitt averaged out at about #7.

The Panthers were quite overrated for much of last year, but return everyone except Dixon, who didn’t have a very good season anyway. What his departure does mean though is that Gibbs is going to have to shoulder even more of the load offensively. It’s hard to get excited about this Pitt team one way or the other.

Uh, okay. I’ll quibble. Unranked to start. Picked to finish 9th in the Big East. Pitt didn’t enter the either of the polls until January. Did they rise a bit higher than warranted? Perhaps. Now it is hard to believe that they got as high as 9th, but for the most part they hung out in the second half of the top-25. Considering the number of games they won and who they beat, I hardly consider them “overrated.” Especially for “much of last year.”

I understand when you don’t look closely at this team it can be hard to understand how they did it and why pundits expect Pitt to do more next season — aside from the fact that Coach Dixon always has the team play well. There are still no big names on the team. At least not as far as the general public notices.

May 16, 2010

The preview mags are coming. The preview mags are coming.

  • Athlon — May 27
  • Sporting News — June 1
  • Phil Steele (chorus of angels singing) — June 8

Usually dropping about the same time as Athlon is Lindy’s. They have their preseason rankings and put Pitt at #14 — and winning the Big East. WVU clocks in at 19th and Cinci at 22d. Very kind to the Big East.

Lindy’s also likes Pitt for their All-American preseason team.

Individually, three Panthers were named to the Lindy’s All-America Team. Sophomore running back Dion Lewis and senior defensive end Greg Romeus were named first team All-Americans, while junior receiver Jon Baldwin was a second-team selection.

Lewis is 1st team RB with returning Heisman winner, Alabama’s Mark Ingram. Behind them are Jacquizz Rodgers of Oregon State and Noel Devine of WVU.

Baldwin was beaten for 1st team honors by Michael Floyd of ND (who actually should have a big year with Brian Kelly’s offense) and Georgia’s A.J. Green.

May 13, 2010

You know, before the NCAA moved the draft withdrawal date to May 8, these revised, but still-way-too-soon lists of preseason top-25 basketball teams weren’t out until June. At least by then you also had a better idea about which teams might have injuries or academic casualties (either present or incoming class).

Here are yet a few more top-25 revisions.

Mike DeCourcy from the Sporting News comes in with the lowest ranking in to this point with a ten-spot.

10. Pitt. The Panthers need their youngest players to score. They relied too heavily on Ashton Gibbs last season and won more games than most anyone — Louisville, WVU, Providence — that could have gone either way. If sophomore Dante Taylor and some of the team’s freshmen can improve the offense, they might not need to win as many close games.

You could throw Wofford, Duquesne (2OT) and Cinci into that mix of either OT or games won by 3 points or less for Pitt. On the other side of the ledger, only two losses — Seton Hall and Xavier were by 3 points or less. And in both cases, it took a furious late effort just to make those losses that close. 6-2 in games that close. There’s a reason my liver took a few extra hits this past season.

Gary Parrish for CBS Sports updates his list with Pitt at #6.

The top three scorers — and seven of the top eight — return from a 25-win team, including Ashton Gibbs, Brad Wannamaker and Gilbert Brown. The roster still doesn’t seem imposing from an individual-talent perspective. But it’s basically the same roster Jamie Dixon used to tear through the Big East last season. There’s no reason to believe he won’t do similar things next season.

He does have ‘Nova at #4 and installs them as a slight favorite for the conference over Pitt. Lot of ‘Nova love this offseason. Seems that their late season swoon and Tourney flop is being pinned on Scottie Reynolds. How quickly they can turn.

Rivals.com is a fan of Pitt. Putting the Panthers at #4.

BUZZ: The Panthers went 25-9 overall and 13-5 in the Big East in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season. Guard Ashton Gibbs was a revelation as a sophomore, and he should continue to improve. The Panthers need to beef up the frontcourt to justify their top-five ranking. The Panthers will look to sophomore Dante Taylor, a former McDonald’s All-American, to contribute more than 4.1 points and 3.7 rebounds.

The top-2 or 3 in all of these lists seems to be some order of Duke, Michigan St. and Purdue.

If you are interested, the NCAA released attendance figures for 2009-10 (PDF). Eighteen homegames with a total attendance of 185,209. That averaged 10,289. That was 7th in the Big East and 42d overall. Not bad in a rebuilding year. Esepcially with a non-con that was light on marquee home games. Should be better this season with the expectations.

May 11, 2010

Hey, how about something non-expansion related? Maybe just for a post or so.

Not sure of the veracity of any of this bit since it is unsourced, but according to Bleed Black and Gold, Coach Jamie Dixon was indeed targeting Dave Leitao as the new assistant. Leitao, however, has declined. If so, bummer.

Leitao has kept a relatively low profile since being fired by Virginia. The only times his name has surfaced was as a candidate for the Hofstra job and for a coaching spot in the NBDL.

Jeff Goodman at FoxSports.com updated his way too soon top-25 now that the early entrant period to enter and withdraw has past. Pitt is in at #7.

The Panthers weren’t expected to do much this past season after losing four starters, but Jamie Dixon performed some magic to the tune of 25 wins. Pittsburgh’s only real loss is Jermaine Dixon, but guards Gibbs and Wanamaker have another year under their belts and McGhee made dramatic improvement in the past year. The key could be the progress of Taylor and redshirt freshman Talib Zanna up front.

He has Villanova at #6.

NBE Basketball blog ranks the Big East recruiting classes and puts Pitt at #5.

The Panthers are going to be absolutely loaded on the perimeter next season, with the arrival of three four-star (in our opinion) guards.

Syracuse, UConn, Georgetown, Marquette round out the top-4. Villanova was 6th. WVU was ranked 10th.

January 17, 2010

Up With Meaningless Rankings

Filed under: Basketball,Polls,Power Rankings — Chas @ 11:22 pm

So as usual on a Sunday after marathon college sports watching on Saturday, I spend Sunday with the kids. Easing back into things.

Going into the weekend, Pitt was rising in the eyes of most media.

ESPN.com’s power rankings put Pitt at #10.

Luke Winn at SI.com was really high on Pitt, shooting them up to #6.

Here’s the reason why I’m way more bullish on Pitt than AP poll voters have been:

Quality road wins* by AP top 25 teams not named Pitt: Eight

Quality road wins by Pitt: Three

(* I’m defining a quality road win as one against a top-60 team in the Pomeroy Ratings, in that team’s home gym.)

The value of road wins, like the ones the Panthers have pulled off in January against Syracuse, Cincinnati and UConn, cannot be understated. The other 24 teams in the AP poll have just eight between them, which means Pitt has 10 times the road clout of your average ranked team. Jamie Dixon‘s team needs to be considered a real contender for the Big East title.

Of course that was before the Louisville game (and UConn has decided to unravel completely). Garry Parrish at CBSSports ranks Pitt #8 after the weekend and Jeff Goodman at FoxSports.com says Pitt is #7.

UConn is unsurprisingly unranked after being unable to handle Michigan. UNC is barely there.

January 11, 2010

Up in the Perceptions

Filed under: Basketball,Polls,Power Rankings — Chas @ 1:44 pm

Rankings and power polls are as much about how teams are viewed as they are on how they are playing. Kansas struggled at home against (a good) Cornell, then lossed to an undermanned Tennessee team. They fell to #3. Not because they played like the #3 team, but because up this past week they had played like a #1 team, all teams no matter how good hit a rough/complacent patch and the pure NBA level talent along with excellent college players on the squad.

Pitt had to overcome the perception that it has lost too much talent to be very good this year, and the “confirmation” of that perception with the loss to Indiana at MSG.

In the latest polls, Pitt is #16 in the AP and #20 in the Coaches.

ESPN.com placed them at #20 in the power rankings. Fran Fraschilla and Doug Gottlieb both had Pitt at #11 at the high end while Pat Forde inexplicably left Pitt off his ballot. Vitale had Pitt down at #24.\

Luke Winn’s power rankings at SI.com puts Pitt at #13.

Back in November (and even early December) this seemed like a season in which Panthers fans would have to tolerate a mediocre present and reminisce about the past — to last year’s Elite Eight run, or even all the way back to Jerome Lane‘s days, when the team had better jerseys and Bill Raftery was in his prime. Then Jamie Dixon‘s boys went and beat Syracuse and Cincinnati in back-to-back away games, giving them more quality true road wins than most of the teams in the Power Rankings, and making it clear that they need to be taken seriously. With a healthy backcourt of Jermaine Dixon, breakout star Ashton Gibbs and Gilbert Brown, the Panthers’ offense is no longer atrocious, and they look like a team headed for an above-.500 finish in the Big East.

FoxSports.com has Pitt debuting at #14. Garry Parrish continues his mea culpa by putting Pitt #12.

And now a word about the mid-way point favorite for Mosti Improved Big East Player, from Jay Bilas.

My vote for the most improved player in the Big East, and maybe the nation, is Pittsburgh’s Ashton Gibbs. The sophomore guard is averaging 17 points per game and scored 19 points at Cincinnati on just six shot attempts. That came against a defense which was geared to stop him. Pitt is still methodically running its half-court sets, but the emphasis of the sets has changed dramatically. Instead of looking for post duck-ins and pounding you in the lane, Pitt is looking for Gibbs coming off screens and setting up drives for Brad Wanamaker. Having Jermaine Dixon and Gilbert Brown back to help space the floor and provide options clearly has helped, but Gibbs makes the whole thing work. He makes great reads, and when chased off the 3-point line, he curls hard and really creates a lot of problems for defenses. Gibbs is very good, but he is also very smart and sees the game very well. No guard in the Big East has improved more.

Still, keeping perspective, Seth Davis at SI.com updates his teams as stock to include Pitt, and puts them at a “Hold.”

The Panthers have shot their way onto the national radar with road wins at Syracuse and Cincinnati. So now what? Well, it’s hard to say, considering they have only been at full strength for four games. Senior guard Jermaine Dixon (21 points vs. Syracuse) missed the first eight games because of a broken bone in his right foot, and junior forward Gilbert Brown (17 points off the bench against Cincy) missed the first 11 while serving a suspension for academics. I’d love to tell you the Panthers are on their way to great things, but check out what they have coming up: at UConn, home versus Louisville, at Georgetown, at Seton Hall, home versus St. John’s, then road dates at South Florida and West Virginia. Will Pitt’s lack of inside scoring be exposed in the next few weeks? Or will they continue to shoot lights out and take a ton of foul shots? Time will tell, but while I grant that this team is better than I thought, given all they lost from last season I have a hard time envisioning them moving into the top 15 and staying there.

Staying there? That will be tough. Getting there? Win the next 2, and it might be top-ten.

I haven’t touched on any football stuff for a while, so time to just see what’s out there.

Pitt ended the season in both polls ranked #15. Best ranking since ’82. First time with 10 wins since ’82. Seems like a trend.

With the season over, that means it is time to project way-too-early-top-25 lists. Pitt gets placed at the same spot by ESPN.com.

15. Pittsburgh Panthers

Pitt finally got over the hump under coach Dave Wannstedt, who led his alma mater to its first 10-win season since 1981. The Panthers will have to replace quarterback Bill Stull and three starting offensive linemen, but they’ll have two of the country’s best playmakers in tailback Dion Lewis and receiver Jonathan Baldwin. At least five starters will have to be replaced on defense, too, including All-Big East defensive tackle Mick Williams, linebacker Adam Gunn, and cornerbacks Aaron Berry and Jovani Chappel. Wannstedt hopes junior defensive end Greg Romeus is coming back for his senior season. Pitt plays an aggressive nonconference schedule, with road contests at Utah and Notre Dame and a home game against Miami. The Panthers will play Big East road games at Connecticut and Cincinnati and will play Rutgers and West Virginia at home.

I expect Pitt will be ranked pre-season anywhere from 13-24 in most of the polls. Pitt will likely be picked to win the conference. I would hesitate to make the early suggestion that Rutgers might be a darkhorse after they failed miserably in the role of sleeper/darkhorse Big East favorite. That said, they have done very well in recruiting and have a very good QB in place with Savage.

Speaking of talented freshman, Dion Lewis earned Freshman All-American status. In Paul Zeise’s ranging and interesting off-season posts on the football team (dare we say Gorman-esque), he touches on Lewis already back at work.

But Lewis is special for so many reasons and here is yet another one – he is reportedly already hitting the winter conditioning program with a vengeance because he understands how hard it is going to be for him to repeat what he did this past season now that he’ll be a marked man. He’s as serious of a player as I’ve ever been around in terms of, being great matters to him and he is more than willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that.

How do you come close to matching a season like that? Few players are lucky enough to have one season like that, and he did it as a freshman. Well, more pressure on the O-line to help match the job done last year.

The issue of DC Phil Bennett’s seemingly imminent departure back to Texas remains oddly minor. We do know he isn’t going to work at Texas A&M.

That doesn’t mean he will necessarily be back – he and Dave Wannstedt are set to sit down face to face tomorrow for the first time since the bowl game and they will no doubt discuss his future. When Phil was hired two years ago it was thought to be a short-term kind of hire so it will be interesting to see how this ultimately plays out. There are still a number of jobs out there and his family is still in Texas with no plans to move here to Pittsburgh, so Bennett could still be moving on as he had told a few people was his plan during the season, but it seems fairly clear that if he is leaving, he isn’t going to Texas A&M as defensive coordinator.

The angst is relatively low because his reasons for leaving are mainly family — so it isn’t personal or job performance related. Also, there is the fact that Greg Gattuso will likely take over in what seems like a no-brainer. Finally, and probably most important, Coach Wannstedt is a defensive coach. The defense has his fingerprints all-over it and so the presumption is the DC is less vital than a good OC. In that respect, it is much like the lack of angst from Cal fans when OC Cignetti left Cal for Pitt last year.

And as I hoped/suspected, the Dave Walker to ‘Cuse rumor looks like bunk.

The David Walker to Syracuse stuff is another thing flying in internet land but in doing some digging, that thing just doesn’t have many legs or much to it. The only way that would happen is if Walker were going to be hired as the offensive coordinator and that isn’t the case. He has been here now since 2005, has made a life here for his family and isn’t likely going to make a lateral move, especially to another Big East school.

Looking at recruiting news, well not so much news as what the kids are doing. The Big 33 roster for Pennsylvania was announced. Six Pitt recruits were on the roster: Aaron Donald, Kevin Weatherspoon, Andrew Carswell, Khaynin Mosley-Smith, Salath Williams and Anthony Gonzalez. Or 6 out of the 10 HS senior Pitt commits from Pennsylvania.

Minor surprise when looking over the verbal commit list. Of the 24 verbals, only 11 (including Todd Thomas) come from Pennsylvania. Yes, there is a lot to do with trying to expand the recruiting base and losing out on some of the best players to Penn State and Ohio State, but it also has something to do with this being something of a down year for Pennsylvania talent.

Mark Meyers, the St. Ignatius (OH) QB commit that seems to have captured more than a few fans’ fancy as to the possibility of competing right away for the starting job, has been named to the USA Football team.

…Myers has been selected to play in USA Football’s Team USA vs. The World game Jan. 30 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

The game, which will be televised live by NFL Network, matches USA Football’s 2010 Junior National team — 45 of the country’s top high school seniors — against a world team composed of 45 of the best players aged 19 and under from eight other countries.

So there is that.

March 3, 2009

Polls and Power

Filed under: Basketball,Polls,Power Rankings — Chas @ 8:45 am

The national rankings dropped Pitt to 3 in the AP and 4 in the Coaches. The only thing more absurd than seeing Pitt voted #8 by two writers was seeing that one actually kept Pitt at #1. You can see the individual feelings from the writers. Shame we never get to see how the coaches vote.

The Power Polls were a little kinder. ESPN.com put Pitt at #3, only 1 point off of the #2 choice.

Gary Parrish at CBS Sports only dropped Pitt to #2.

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