With a 64-52 loss to Georgetown in the second round of the Big East tournament, Pittsburgh’s 10-year run of NCAA tournament appearances is likely over. But the Panthers are eyeing a return to New York at the end of the month in the N.I.T.
The 17-16 Panthers did well on Tuesday in the tournament’s opening round, defeating St. John’s, but the Panthers needed to win the tournament after a rocky regular season to extend their NCAA tournament streak. Several bad losses this year were part of a 5-13 mark in conference play.
“Obviously we knew we had to win this tournament here and obviously it’s been a nice long streak [in the NCAA tournament] and something I guess a few schools have done more,” head coach Jamie Dixon said.
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Last year, the Panthers won the Big East regular season title in what has been an unprecedented run of success for their program. Since 2007, Pittsburgh has never had lower than the No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament and twice has been the top seed in their region.
Now, they’re eyeing a lesser title with as much enthusiasm as they would the NCAA tournament.
“It’s tough; I mean, obviously this is the first time in our lives we’ve gone through this situation,” Nasir Robinson said. “We’re just going to finish off strong, NIT or whatever. We’re just going to finish strong and keep fighting.”
Follow Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for live updates from the Big East tournament all week.