Pitt Can Still Have Best ACC Seed in Capel Era Despite His Worst Season

The Associated Press

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The Pitt Men's basketball team has already clinched their worst overall win percentage in the Jeff Capel era.  Even with a win tomorrow against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, they will still finish with their worst overall win percentage in the past four seasons.  However, a win tomorrow, and some help, would secure the Panthers’ best seed in the ACC tournament since Jamie Dixon coached the team.

Pitt is currently tied for 11th in the ACC with Louisville and Boston College.  If they win tomorrow, and Louisville and Boston College both lose, Pitt will be the 11th seed in the ACC tournament.  However, if Pitt loses, and Louisville and Boston College both win, the Panthers would fall to 13th. If there is a tie between two or all three of these teams, it gets a little complicated.

If teams have the same conference record at the end of the season, the first tie breaker is their head-to-head matchups against each other.  However, if the teams played twice, and split the season series, there is a formula used.  It is the teams’ records against the top-ranked team in the conference, and if those are the same, it continues down through the standings until a team gains an advantage. 

Pitt split their two-game series against both Louisville and Boston College this season.  Pitt, Louisville, and Boston College all lost to Duke this season, the clinched No. 1 seed in the ACC.  Therefore, it would move the tie breaker on to the 2nd seed.  

Right now, North Carolina and Notre Dame are tied.  However, North Carolina lost to Notre Dame in their single game against each other this season.  So if both win or both lose tomorrow, Notre Dame has the head-to-head tie breaker.  Notre Dame plays against Pitt tomorrow, while North Carolina plays against Duke, in Coach K’s last ever game at Cameron Indoors.  Tickets are going for over $5k and there will not be a louder venue in the next 20 years than what Cameron Indoors will be tomorrow.  It’d take nothing short of a miracle for the Tar Heels to win that game.

If North Carolina does win, and Notre Dame loses to Pitt, Pitt has the tie breaker against both Louisville and Boston College in that case.  Pitt is the only one of those three to have beaten the Tar Heels during the regular season.  However, if Notre Dame takes that 2nd spot, it gets dicey, especially if it’s because both the Irish and the Tar Heels suffered losses.  Notre Dame split their season series against Boston College, as would be the case if they lose to Pitt tomorrow.  However, Louisville lost both of their games against Notre Dame.  So Pitt would edge out Louisville, but not Boston College. 

So if Louisville loses, but Pitt and Boston College both win, and North Carolina is the 3rd seed, Pitt would have that tie breaker as the only team of the two to beat the Tar Heels.

Fortunately, Miami loses in a tie breaker to both North Carolina and Notre Dame, even if the Hurricanes win tomorrow, so the scenarios outlined above should be the only ones we need to consider.  Also, Wake Forest has already completed their season so they have no way of gaining that 14th win that would put them in contention for the 2nd seed.

However, Clemson could play a role in all of this as well, if all three of Boston College, Louisville, and Pitt win, but that opens up a whole new can of worms. 

Regardless, Pitt’s best shot tomorrow is to just win baby, win.  Beating Notre Dame wouldn’t just give them some momentum going into the ACC Tournament, but it’s their only shot at gaining that 11th seed.  If Pitt did achieve that 11th seed, they would get to play one of Georgia Tech or NC State in the first round.  Despite losing to Georgia Tech, I still believe the Panthers are better than both of those teams.

It’s a far cry from the days of discussing #1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament for the Panthers, but these are the scenarios we have to work with now.  Also, every conference tournament winner gets an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, so there’s always that chance.