Pitt coach Dixon says finding right balance for schedule no easy task |

Pitt coach Dixon says finding right balance for schedule no easy task

Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon says it is a “huge challenge” to schedule “the best teams possible” during nonconference play.

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon displays a certain look whenever he’s asked about the Panthers’ nonconference schedule.

It’s a look of “here we go again.” But it’s a look shared by other ACC coaches attempting to balance playing in arguably the most competitive league in college basketball against playing a nonconference schedule that’s competitive yet not overly so.

On Friday night, for instance, Pitt (2-0) visits Hawaii (20-11, 9-7 Big West last year) before facing Division II Chaminade three days later, followed by potential high-profile opponents San Diego State, BYU, Arizona, Kansas State, Missouri and Purdue in the Maui Invitational.

A year ago, Arizona advanced to the Elite Eight, San Diego State went to the Sweet 16 and Kansas State and BYU were NCAA Tournament at-large teams.

The remainder of Pitt’s nonconference schedule features a visit to Indiana as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and Atlantic 10 member and backyard rival Duquesne at Consol Energy Center. The Panthers also have home games against mid-majors Manhattan, St. Bonaventure, Oakland, Holy Cross and Florida Gulf Coast before opening ACC play on the road against North Carolina State and Boston College.

The Panthers host another mid-major, Northeast Conference member Bryant, in February.

“We try to get the best teams possible. It’s a huge challenge,” Dixon said. “We play a certain number of home games. Duquesne is a game we should play. It frustrates me when sometimes people outside don’t understand how important it is to people in Pittsburgh.

“We’re playing teams in the preseason that are going to be good. We’re playing in the ACC. We’re playing a rivalry game. We’re playing a couple road games, which most teams don’t play at our level. We’ve had a pretty good record, so … not many teams (are) left that we would like to play that would be a big name.”

Predictably, ACC teams thin out their nonconference schedules with home games against opponents they’re expected to beat.

For every Indiana and potential high-profile opponent in Maui, there is an Oakland, Niagara or Duquesne — teams that finished a combined 33-63 last season.

“Our schedule’s not any different than anybody else,” Dixon said. “Everybody’s doing the same thing.”

Pitt plays Louisville and Syracuse twice each this season in addition to facing North Carolina, Duke and Virginia once each. All four ACC opponents were ranked in the preseason Top 25.

“We’re always going to have the toughest schedule in the conference since we’ve got Louisville and Syracuse (twice),” Dixon said. “It’s not even close.

“Who’s going to have two better teams in the country? But I think it’s good overall for us and for our program.”

John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected].

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.