NCAA Bracket Preview: Complete Pittsburgh Tournament Primer

With March Madness here, Pittsburgh has proven time and again this season that it is one of the nation's best teams. The Panthers battled through a challenging non-conference schedule and, of course, the rugged Big East. The team gives itself a chance to win every game by not relying on defense and rebounding more than offense. The Panthers often limit opponents to one shot attempt on each possession, and at the other end, their 14.4 offensive rebounds per game are tenth-best in the nation.

Starting three seniors and two juniors, Jamie Dixon's Pitt team is one of the most experienced in the country, and that could be the reason Pitt finally reaches the Final Four. Talented bench players Travon Woodall and Dante Taylor could start for many NCAA tournament teams, and guard Lamar Patterson adds to the Panthers' quality depth. Even without injured redshirt freshman Talib Zanna, the Panthers have a very strong bench.

Record: 27-4 overall (15-3 Big East)

RPI: No. 6

Key wins:

Texas Longhorns: 11/19, at Madison Square Garden (neutral site), 68-66 - Pitt defeated Texas in the finale of the 2K Sports Classic tournament.

Connecticut Huskies: 12/27 at home, 78-63 - After ripping through its non-conference schedule, Pitt won its Big East opener by defeating No. 4 UConn at the Petersen Events Center.

Georgetown Hoyas: 1/12 on the road, 72-57 - In the team's second road game of the season, the Panthers never trailed in a win against the 19th-ranked Hoyas.

Syracuse Orange: 1/17 at home, 74-66 - Pitt raced out to a 19-0 lead against No. 3 Syracuse and never trailed.

Villanova Wildcats: 2/12 on the road, 57-54 - Without star Ashton Gibbs, Pitt won a close game in Philadelphia against No. 10 Villanova.

Villanova Wildcats: 3/5 at home, 60-50 - Needing a win in its season finale to clinch the Big East regular-season title, the Panthers delivered, beating the Wildcats for a second straight time.

Key Losses:

Tennessee Volunteers: 12/11 at Consol Energy Center, 83-76 - After a 7-0 start, Tennessee is now 18-13 and in danger of missing the NCAA tournament. While the game was Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center (making it technically a neutral site), Pitt was soundly beaten.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish: 1/24 at home, 56-51 - Pitt's only home loss of the season was at the hands of Notre Dame. If the Irish win the Big East tournament, they could get consideration for a No. 1 seed, over Pitt.

Player(s) to watch: Ashton Gibbs is Pitt's best offensive player and will be needed for the team to make a deep tournament run. Forget the fact that Pitt won tough games at Villanova and at West Virginia without him. The Panthers' offense hasn't matched its season average of 74 points per game since a January 22 contest against DePaul. At some point, Pitt needs to score some more points, and as the leading scorer, Gibbs will be critical.

The team also needs Gary McGhee. The 6-foot-10 center plays excellent defense, but the team needs him to be more assertive on the boards. McGhee reached double figures in rebounds in five of Pitt's first ten Big East games. But in the eight games since, he's only reached that mark once.

Need a printable NCAA bracket to fill out for the tournament? Download SB Nation's March Madness Bracket.

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