Pitt to Play March Madness Game in Pittsburgh? A Longshot, But Maybe

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

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The Men's Division I NCAA Basketball Tournament, known as March Madness, will be returning to Pittsburgh this year for the first time since 2018.  1st and 2nd round games will be taking place at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday, March 18th and Saturday, March 20th. Additionally, the Division III Women’s basketball championship will also be playing in Pittsburgh the same weekend at Duquesne University's UPMC Cooper Field House.  It will truly be March Madness downtown for Pittsburghers and college basketball fans alike.

While the Pitt Panthers are not currently expected to make the NCAA Tournament this year, that is the beauty of college basketball.  Every Division 1 conference tournament winner gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.  

Do I expect Pitt to win the ACC tournament?  No, I do not.  However, there is always that small glimmer of hope that doesn't exist in the current College Football Playoff system.  In football, conference championships do not guarantee much of anything, even if you play in a Power 5 conference.  Fortunately, basketball rewards their conference champions, making the postseason that much more exciting.

If the season ended today, the Panthers would be the 13th seed in the ACC tournament.  The bottom 12 through 15 seeds have the toughest road as they have to beat five straight ACC opponents to win the tournament.  As the 13th seed, Pitt would be facing Boston College in the 1st round of the conference bracket, a team they've already played twice.  They split the regular season series winning at home by a 2-point margin, but then losing by 13 on the road to the Eagles.

If they won that game, the Panthers would play the 5th seed in the ACC, which is currently the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.  It would be poetic for Pitt to beat Wake Forest in the conference postseason after beating them in the ACC Championship in football this past season.  However, Pitt got whooped by the Deacons already this season, giving up 91 points.  

Also, even if Pitt were to pull off the unthinkable, and win the ACC tournament, the selection committee typically only rewards the highest seeds with home games, or even letting them play in their own region.  Pitt would be nothing higher than a 12 seed if they did sneak in with the auto bid, and they would most likely not be rewarded with a game in Pittsburgh.  However, there is still a chance, albeit, a very small one.  Plus, it is still exciting to have NCAA Tournament games in Pittsburgh again!