Posted: 7:01 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014
Earlier in the season, I lamented quite a bit about the Panthers being left out of the basketball polls for an unbelievably long time. Some will argue the polls don't matter, but that's not true since it means more TV exposure (on SportsCenter where the Top 25 teams are featured, on scoreboards at the top of popular sports sites, etc.) and is really something that matters to recruits.
But while Pitt may have gotten shorted a bit earlier in the year, they now seem to be getting some benefit of the doubt. The Panthers lost both of their games this week (at home, no less), but still managed to remain in both the Coaches and Media polls.
Pitt dropped to No. 25 in the AP Top 25, sliding seven spots, and to No. 22 in the Coaches poll, a drop of five spots.
Realistically, does Pitt still deserve to be ranked? When you look around them in those polls, I think so. The Panthers still have only four losses and not only are many five-loss teams ranked, but many are ahead of Pitt in the rankings. Further, Pitt's four losses are all to top 25 teams. Three of them, in fact, are now to top 11 teams as Syracuse, Duke, and Cincinnati, all rank that highly.
The Virginia loss, as I pointed out before, was disappointing because it was Pitt's second straight defeat and was at home. But for all the questions about this team, Pitt still doesn't have a bad loss and three of their defeats were by five points or less. They don't even have a loss against a team not currently ranked. Pitt doesn't have the strong win they could really use right now, but it's not that much of a reach to consider them a Top 25 team.
Based on the treatment the team got earlier in the year, them falling out completely wouldn't have been a stretch. And that Duke loss, admittedly, was a horrible one. But after thinking about it, personally, I think drops of five and seven in the polls for losing to two ranked teams is enough of a punishment.