After flirting with the No. 1 seed, Pitt (21-10, 14-6) will enter the ACC Tournament as the No. 5 seed next week, with its first game scheduled for 2:30 pm on Wednesday afternoon.
The Panthers will face either No. 12 seed Florida State (9-22 overall, 7-13 ACC) or No. 13 seed Georgia Tech (14-17, 6-14), who meet Tuesday at 2 pm in the first game of the tournament. Pitt had a 3-1 record against those two teams in the regular season, winning both games against the Yellow Jackets but splitting the series against the Seminoles with a loss at the Petersen Events Center and a win in Tallahassee.
If the Panthers win that game, they will advance to the quarterfinals, where they’ll face No. 4 seed Duke at 2:30 pm on Thursday.
The Wednesday game will be broadcast on ESPN, while the Thursday game could be on ESPN or ESPN2.
Pitt entered the final week of the regular season at the top of the ACC, having beaten Syracuse soundly at home to improve to 14-4 in the conference. With one more win, the Panthers would have clinched a share of the ACC regular-season championship and a top-four seed, which would have ensured a double-bye into the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament.
Jeff Capel’s group also had a clear path to an outright conference title with wins at Notre Dame on Wednesday night and at Miami on Saturday.
Instead, Pitt stumbled. The Panthers were effectively blown out by the Irish in the most disappointing loss of the season and then saw their hopes of a shared championship and top-four seed dashed when they the Hurricanes crushed them on the boards en route to a two-point loss on Saturday.
A few outcomes around the conference could have helped Pitt into the top four seeds – Louisville beating Virginia, Notre Dame beating Clemson or North Carolina beating Duke – but none of those came to pass, leaving the Panthers as the No. 5 seed.
While the outcome was disappointing, this does stand as Pitt’s highest seed since the 2013-14 season – the Panthers’ inaugural year in the ACC. They were the No. 5 seed that season after posting an 11-7 record in conference play. Pitt tied for ninth in the league each of the next two seasons but finished 13th, 15th, 14th, 13th, 12th and 11th in the six seasons since then.
The Panthers’ 14 wins in ACC play this season stand as a high-water mark; Pitt has never won more than 11 conference games since joining the league. And the team’s 21 overall wins are the Panthers’ most in a regular season since they won 23 in the 2013-14 season.