clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Pittsburgh Panthers (27-4, 15-3 Big East): Pitt Big East Tournament Favorite

Pittsburgh Panthers (27-4, 15-3 Big East)

Big East Tournament Seed:  No. 1; play 8/9/16 winner on Thursday (noon on ESPN)

Head Coach: Jamie Dixon, who's coaching his eighth year at Pittsburgh, is probably the most underrated head coach in the nation. Entering this season, Dixon has the highest Big East winning percentage (.696) than any other conference coach (yeap, that includes legends like Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun and Rick Pitino). Unfortunately for the rest of the coaches, his percentage just went up.

Team MVP:  Frankly, there are about two other MVPs for the Panthers, but junior guard Ashton Gibbs stands out above them all. Why? Because the 6-foot-2 guard, who earned All-Big East First Team honors, leads the team in scoring (16.4 points per game), 3-point shooting percentage (46.6), is automatic from the free-throw line (89.5 percent) and if Pitt needs a basket, they look to him.

Playing For: A recent losses to St. John's Red Storm, Feb. 19, and Louisville Cardinals, Feb. 27, have put Pitt on the NCAA Tournament top-seed bubble. A finals appearances should help the Panthers earn their second No. 1 seed in three seasons.

Breakdown: By far the most well balanced team, the SB Nation New York's Best Big East Team has been the class of the nation's best conference all season. However, Pittsburgh could never string together enough victories to earn the nation's top ranking  -- Pitt was ranked No. 2 on Jan. 24.

Gibbs and senior guard Brad Wannamaker (11.9 ppg), a All-Big East second teamer, can beat you inside and out, while senior center Gary McGhee and senior forward Gilbert Brown protect the rim with physical play. Sophomore guard Travon Woodall is the only non-junior/senior that plays 20-plus minutes per game. That experience should help the program earn its third Big East Tournament title.