Rothstein and Lunardi Differ on Pitt's NCAA Tournament Status

Getty images

Remember to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for continued Pittsburgh Sports coverage: 

Two of the more prominent College Basketball analysts right now are Joe Lunardi and Jon Rothstein.  Lunardi works for ESPN and Rothstein works for CBS Sports.  Both are considered what the industry calls "bracket-ologists" or people who predict who will be in the NCAA Tournament and at what seed.  Now, to be clear, neither have any sway in who actually makes the tournament, but they tend to do decently well in prognosticating.

Prior to last week, and the two losses that Pitt suffered, Lunardi made a solid statement about Pitt's chances to make the NCAA Tournament.  He said that, "One more victory--anywhere, against anyone--and Pitt locks up its first NCAA tourney bid since 2016."  This was on March 1st, before the Panthers lost to Notre Dame and Miami, falling to 5th in the ACC.  

Then, on March 4th, prior to Pitt's loss to Miami but after the loss to Notre Dame, Lunardi had Pitt listed as 10th seed, No. 37 overall in the field.  Since that loss, and as of 6:38 PM last night, Pitt is 41st overall, and in one of the last four byes per Lunardi.  This is all from Lunardi's twitter account, @ESPNLunardi.

This makes sense per what Lunardi said on the 1st of this month.  Pitt needed one more win, anywhere in any situation, to be in the tournament.  They haven't won since February 25th against Syracuse.  

However, Pitt will have another opportunity tomorrow at 2:30 PM on ESPN in the second round of the ACC Tournament.  They will play the winner of Georgia Tech and Florida State.  Now, what frustrates me is that getting a bye in a conference tournament should count as a win.  Just as getting the double bye should count as two wins.  The bye(s) was earned, and should not count against you in the sense that Pitt still needs a win.  Had they the opportunity to play in the 1st round, it'd be a much easier opponent and a better chance to get that one win.  

Fortunately, I saw today that CBS's Jon Rothstein has Pitt as an NCAA Tournament lock.  They are among the five ACC locks including Miami, Virginia, Duke, and NC State.  He also has North Carolina and Clemson on the bubble.  

Now, Rothstein is more known for his avid tweeting where he's seemingly somehow watching every game at once every night.  He is also known for the team mottos he makes up more so than his bracketology prowess, but the guy knows college basketball.  And he's as in tune with the college basketball world as anyone.  So it's nice to see a guy like that have Pitt firmly in the tournament regardless of the ACC Tournament game, or games, that the Panthers play in this week.

So we'll see.  I for one would find it difficult to keep the Panthers out with all of the honors they received yesterday.  Jeff Capel won ACC Coach of the Year, Nike Sibande won Sixth Man of the Year, Jamarius Burton received All-ACC First Team honors, and Blake Hinson received All-ACC Second Team honors.  Burton also finished sixth in ACC Player of the Year voting.  That, plus their 21-10 record, is a tournament team.  I typically lean Lunardi when it comes to these things, but this time I'm running with Rothstein.  Even if my bias is showing.  

Hail to Pitt!