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Why a Final Four trip isn't in Pitt's future

Let me start off by admitting that I'll be rooting for Pitt to earn a trip to the Final Four.

I'll be rooting, but I don't expect it to happen.

That's usually the way it is with Pitt. I've lived by one rule when it comes to Pitt football and Pitt basketball -- they will disappoint you (or break your heart).

This will be Pitt's 10th straight tournament appearance. Over the past nine seasons, Pitt has a strong history of underachieving.Last year, they lost to Xavier in the second round. In 2008 they lost to Michigan State in the second round. In 2006 they lost to Bradley in the second round. In 2005 they lost to Pacific in the first round.

They play in the toughest league and won it. However, their style of physical play doesn't translate into the tournament. First, they enter the game with a reputation of a hard-nosed, tough team, putting the officials on alert. Second, they get officials who don't normally allow such play.

I've always thought the Panthers needed a consistent scoring threat. They needed someone who can get you a basket whenever it was needed. They never have had it. Oh, they've had some very good players, and plenty of unselfish players, but never the pure scorer. That usually haunts them.

I'm also tired of the hype by the Pittsburgh media. Usually we're treated to stories about how Pitt looks like a Final Four team, or this team looks to be the Panthers' best. Then, after they fall short of expectations, we're told it was a successful season. I'm not sure some of the writers in the area have a firm grip on top college basketball.

Maybe they'll be right this time. Maybe Ron Cook will look good with his prediction, Onboard with Pitt reaching Final Four. Then again, Cook thought the Steelers would win the Super Bowl, Terrelle Pryor or Dion Lewis would win the Heisman, and Mike Haywood deserved a chance as the Pitt football coach (this was before the allegations surfaced).

Let's take a look at Pitt's path, which I think is littered with roadblocks. In their first game, the Panthers get UNC-Asheville. If ever a No. 1 seed was going to lose to a No. 16 seed, this will be it. I think Pitt will prevail. Next will be a tough test for the Panthers. They get the winner of the Butler-Old Dominion game. There's a good chance Pitt loses here. If it's Butler, I think the Panthers lose.

However, let's have fun and advance the Panthers anyway. Barring an upset, Pitt would play either Wisconsin or Kansas State. K-State is my pick to make it to the Final Four. Wisconsin could beat K-State and they could beat Pitt as well. A Panthers win, however, would put it one victory away from the Final Four. That matchup could be against either Florida or BYU, if seeding holds. I don't see it happening.

Maybe you do. I hope you're right.

Just remember, Pitt will break your heart.


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