On Tuesday night Pitt Basketball will face George Washington in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament. The Panthers are the No. 4 seed and will host the No. 5 seed Colonials at the Peterson Events Center at 7 pm on ESPN. Pitt is 15-3 at home this season and will greatly benefit playing at home in front of the Oakland Zoo student section.
The winner is playing for a chance against either No. 1 Temple or No. 8 Bucknell in the second round. The highest seed hostess the games until the semifinals where they are played at Madison Square Garden.
This is just the second time in Jamie Dixon’s 12 years at Pitt that they won’t make the NCAA Tournament. In 2012 the Panthers won the College Basketball Invitational Championship against Washington State. The CBI is considered to be the tournament lower than the NIT.
Pitt misses out of NCAA Tournament
Pitt was considered late in the season to be on the bubble of making the NCAA Tournament. Their last win came on Feb. 24 against Boston College. Since then they lost three straight regular season games to Wake Forest, Miami, and Florida State. The Wake Forest loss certainly deflated the Panthers chances of getting in. Pitt lost their first ACC Tournament game against North Carolina State, who received a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The George Washington’s last NIT appearance came in 2004 while the Panthers last appeared in it in 2001.
Last season George Washington reached the NCCA Tournament as a 9 seed and lost to No. 8 seed Memphis in the round of 64. This season the Colonials finished sixth in the A-10 Conference with a record of (21-12, 10-8). Their quality wins came against 11th ranked Wichita State and Dayton. Both teams will be playing in the NCAA Tournament.
The Colonials are led by junior forward Patricio Garino, who averages 12.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. George Washington has four players that average double digit points while Jamel Artis and Michael Young are the only ones averaging double digit points for Pitt.
Head coach Mike Lonergan has been with the team since 2011 with an overall record of 64-54. His only postseason appearance with George Washington was last year. Before he coached Vermont with a 126-68 record and led them to one NCAA appearance and two NIT appearances.
New Rules in NIT
The NIT will be trying two experimental rules in the tournament. First they will be lowering the shot clock from 35 seconds to 30 seconds and also will be expanding the restricted area under the basket from three feet to four feet. The NCAA will be studying to see if the shot clock will change the pace of play and scoring. Also if the expansion of the restricted area reduces the number of collisions under the basket. Jamie Dixon favors the new changes and believes that the NCAA will be in favor of voting for a change in the future.