The Season Nobody Expected


Pitt Athletics

Greg Elliott celebrates during Pitt’s win over the University of North Carolina.

Christopher Hoffman, Staff Writer

The Pitt Panthers have not been known to have a good basketball team in a long time. Back in the early 2000, they had always been known to be one of the best teams.  2009 was the last time Pitt got past the second round of the NCAA tournament, but this year seems to be a lot different than the past 12 years have been for them.

When you look at Pitt’s roster, you don’t see anybody that pops out at you. They were supposed to have freshman Dior Johnson, the highest recruit in Pitt history, on the team this year. Unfortunately, he was charged with aggravated assault and simple assault before the season started, and once the charges were dropped, they had to redshirt Dior because he already missed half the year. This was not a good way to start the year. 

This caused the Panthers to have a slow start to their season. They started 1-3 with blowout losses to Michigan, West Virginia, and a close loss to VCU. Their only win to that point was against Tennessee Martin, 80-58. At this point, many were  already counting them out. Pitt fan and sophomore Jack Kymetic says, “They had me worried. They needed something big and they just didn’t have anything going their way.”

They had me worried. They needed something big and they just didn’t have anything going their way.

— Pitt Fan Jack Kymetic


Then out of nowhere they turned their whole season around in a flash. In the next 11 games, Pitt went 10-1, which put their record at 11-4,with wins against N.C. State, and North Carolina who was ranked #25 in the country, and Virginia who was ranked #11 in the country. Pitt was being led by Junior guard Blake Hinson averaging 17 points a night. Kymetic  says, “After the big streak they were on and Blake playing like a star, I knew we had a chance to win the conference.”

With 2 games left in the regular season Pitt had already put together a phenomenal resume. At this point Pitt had a record of 21-8 and a conference record of 14-4, which put them as the number 1 team in the conference and also the #25 in the country. This made them the team to beat in the ACC.

Sadly, Pitt finished the regular season losing their last 2 games to Notre Dame and Miami FL. This hurt as, instead of being the 1 seed in the conference tournament, it pushed them back to the 5 seed giving them a much harder schedule in  the conference tournament. A schedule that started with a game against Georgia Tech. 

Heading into the game against Georgia Tech, it seemed like Pitt should win by a mile. Even at half time Pitt was up 44-31. Things were looking up until Georgia Tech started to claw back. With 10 minutes left in the game Georgia Tech was only down 3.

But then Jamarius Burton started to pick up the pace. He finished the game with 21 points and a 89-81 win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and Pitt moved onto playing the mighty Duke Blue Devils.

This wasn’t the first time Pitt and Duke played this year.  On January 11, 2023 Pitt was leading by 11 at halftime against Duke. This lead would not last very long. Duke made the comeback to win by 8.

Pitt wanted revenge for their next game, but that didn’t happen. They started the game poorly  and never got back to their good form. Losing by 30 points, it left Pitt waiting 3 days to hear if they got into the NCAA tournament.

After 3 long days, Pitt heard their name called on Selection Sunday. They got an 11 seed and have to play in a play-in game against Mississippi St. to get into the round of 64. Which leaves the question:How far can Pitt go?