Pitt deservedly moved up seven spots in the AP poll this week, up to #12. Still a bit underrated, in my opinion, in the ESPN/USA Today poll, sitting only #16. Andy Katz seems to agree.
This is the time of year when I really start paying attention to the polls. Unlike football, college basketball actually determines its national championship by, you know, a playoff. Still, it's foolish to think that because of that, seeding doesn't matter. You only have to look back to 2004 when Pitt was a #3 seed and UCONN was a #2 seed. In its three games, Pitt had to play against the highest possible seed each time. UCONN played against a 7-seed DePaul team, and because of upsets, got to play a 6th-seeded Vanderbilt team and an 8-seed in Alabama. Their fairly easy path landed them a trip to the Final Four. UCONN went 27-6 in the regular season, while Pitt went 29-4. They split the regular season series 1-1, but UCONN won by three in the Big East Conference final. If Pitt pulls that game out, perhaps the seeds are reversed and they get to the Final Four that year.
Just goes to show you how much you need to break your way. You not only need the seeding, you need some breaks along the way.
The rankings play a part in this beacuse of perception. Pitt has a chance at winning each of their last four games before the tournament. If they can somehow find ways to win each of those, they might be able to enter the Big East Tournament as a top five team. Win a game in that tournament and Pitt would likely be looking at a #2 seed. If Pitt can slide in as a #2 or even #3 seed, I'd feel a lot better about their chances.
And for the record, Joe Lunardi has them as a #4 seed right now (though I'd love to be in that region).