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Pitt to face George Washington in National Invitation Tournament

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Pitt to face George Washington in National Invitation Tournament

By Chris Puzia / Sports Editor

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For the second time in Jamie Dixon’s 12 years as Pitt’s head men’s basketball coach, the Panthers will not compete in the NCAA Tournament.

Pitt will, however, play in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), beginning with a game on Tuesday at 7 p.m., according to the NIT Selection Show announcement on Sunday.

The Panthers (19-14, 8-10 ACC), who drew a No. 4 seed for the tournament, will face George Washington University in the tournament’s opening round at the Petersen Events Center .

Pitt last missed the NCAA Tournament field in 2012, when it finished 22-17 (4-12 ACC) and went on to win the College Basketball Invitational Tournament.

Sophomore forwards Jamel Artis and Michael Young will continue to lead the Panthers in the NIT. They averaged 13.8 and 13.5 points per game, respectively, during the season. Young also led the team with 7.3 rebounds per game.

Pitt slid off the tournament bubble at the end of the season when it lost its final three regular season games at Wake Forest, against Miami and at Florida State. It then lost its first ACC Tournament game to North Carolina State, which earned a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Pitt last won on Feb. 24 against Boston College at home.

While the team has become accustomed to NCAA Tournament berths,it still struggled to find success there recently. Last year, Pitt lost to No. 1 seed Florida 61-45 in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

Pitt last played in the NIT in 2001, when it lost in the second round to Mississippi State, 66-61. The Panthers have a combined 6-8 record in eight total NIT appearances.

George Washington University has made four NIT appearances in program history, but lost in the first round each time. Its last appearance came in 2004, when it lost to Virginia 79-66.

George Washington University head coach Mike Lonergan, who holds a 445-215 career record, led the Colonials to the NCAA Tournament last season. As a No. 9 seed, the team lost to No. 8 Memphis in the round of 64.

Patricio Garino will lead George Washington (21-12, 10-8 A-10). The junior guard/forward averages 12.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. The Colonials finished sixth in the Atlantic 10 Conference.

George Washington’s signature win of the season came on Dec. 25 against then-No. 11 Wichita State, 60-54.

A stretch in which GW lost six of seven games hampered the Colonials’ NCAA Tournament chances. The only win during that stretch was a 65-64 overtime victory over Dayton on Feb. 6.

The team started the season well, however, beginning 12-3 before dropping several conference games.

The game tips off at 7 p.m. If Pitt wins, the Panthers will face the winner of Temple and Bucknell in a potential inter-state battle.

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Pitt to face George Washington in National Invitation Tournament