Pitt is nation's most underrated

The Panthers don't pass the eye test, but are much better than you think

Updated: February 18, 2013, 12:37 PM ET
By Ken Pomeroy | Special to ESPN Insider
J.J. MooreCharles LeClaire/USA TODAY SportsJ.J. Moore and Pittsburgh rank fourth in the Big East in adjusted defensive efficiency.

I think it's safe to say that no team has underachieved its numbers more than the Pittsburgh Panthers. Even after losing at Marquette on Saturday, Pitt has outscored its Big East opponents by 89 points, which suggests it's more like a 10-3 Big East team than the 8-5 record it currently owns.

And it's not as though Jamie Dixon's team has done this against a weak conference schedule. To the contrary, they have drawn the short straw schedule-wise. Among teams in the top half of the Big East, they've played easily the toughest conference slate so far, already racking up games against Syracuse, Louisville and Georgetown, with two each against Marquette and Cincinnati. That represents over half of their Big East games to this point.

The eye test, however, is not all that flattering to Pitt. In general, I feel that the eye test often fails for teams that play at a slow pace and don't shoot particularly well. Over the past decade, Pittsburgh has often been the standard for teams that are able to score deceptively well on a per-possession basis. Dixon's history as head coach is littered with squads that dominated the offensive boards and took care of the ball well enough to convert unspectacular shooting accuracy into an effective scoring machine.


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