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The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
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Pitt men’s basketball fails to make NCAA Tournament, declines NIT bid

Head+coach+Jeff+Capel+speaks+to+the+team+during+a+game+against+Notre+Dame+at+the+Petersen+Events+Center+on+Feb.+4.
Bronco York | Staff Photographer
Head coach Jeff Capel speaks to the team during a game against Notre Dame at the Petersen Events Center on Feb. 4.

Pitt men’s basketball had a disappointing Sunday evening, as the team failed to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The selection committee listed the Panthers as one of the first four teams out of the tournament. 

“I am incredibly proud of the performance, development, and fight of our team,” head coach Jeff Capel said via X. “We ultimately fell short of our goal of reaching the NCAA tournament, despite ranking favorably in the computers, performing well in conference play with a fourth-place finish and an ACC Tournament semi-final appearance and playing our best basketball over the last eight weeks of the season.”

The Panthers also announced via X that they would not participate in the NIT, which is a consolation competition for teams that do not make the NCAA tournament. 

“We made the decision to decline an NIT invitation as a team and with the support of University leadership,” Capel said. “It was a difficult choice, but ultimately what is best for our student-athletes.” 

The Panthers were not the only bubble team to face disappointment on Sunday, as teams such as Indiana State — who were ranked No. 29 in NET rankings — failed to make the tournament. 

“When you get to this point, and you’re trying to differentiate [which teams make the tournament], it becomes like splitting hairs, and someone is going to be left out,” CBS analyst Clark Kellogg said during the selection show.

Most bracketologists predicted that Pitt would not make the tournament coming into Sunday’s selection show. A plethora of upsets in conference tournaments across the country sealed the Panthers’ fate, as teams such as Duquesne, Oregon and NC State stole bids that Pitt could have occupied. 

“This is the first team since I’ve been on the committee that we’ve had five bids that have been stolen,” Charles McClelland — a member of the selection committee — said during the selection show. “The last two years, combined, there has only been three.”

The selection committee decision comes after the Panthers defeated Wake Forest and narrowly fell to No. 1 seed North Carolina in the ACC Tournament. 

Even though the Panthers finished out their regular season on a high note and played well in the ACC Tournament, what ultimately kept the team out of March Madness was its weak non-conference schedule. The Panthers ranked 121st in non-conference strength of schedule and fell to considerably weaker opponents early in the season, such as Missouri. 

Pitt’s season is now over. Capel said that the Panthers will now refocus on improving over the offseason in hopes of making the tournament next year. 

“We look forward to continuing to build this program and preparing for an NCAA Tournament run in 2025,” Capel said.

 

About the Contributor
Brian Sherry, Sports Editor