With Pitt about to embark on its 15-day tour of nationally ranked teams, here are some tidbits about Pitt’s history of playing ranked opponents.
Pitt’s first game against a ranked foe was No. 2 Bradley in January, 1950.
(the AP poll began in 1948 and ranked only the top 10 teams from 1961-68). Pitt lost to Bradley, 84-48.
The Panthers have played 254 ranked opponents (going 73-181), and once went seven years in a row without facing a team in the AP rankings (Dec. 28, 1963 to Dec. 30, 1970). Pitt is 0-13 against No. 1 ranked teams.
From 1993-2000, Pitt went 4-38 against ranked teams. Last season Pitt was 4-3.
• Collegehoops.net, an outstanding website and resource, released its Mid-Season Top 100 on Friday. Pitt was well represented. Sam Young was No. 10 (and second among all Big East players), with DeJuan Blair No. 18 and Levance Fields No. 55.
Luke Harangody was No. 5, the top Big East player. Blake Griffin was the top-rated player, ahead of Stephen Curry, Tyler Hansbrough and James Harden.
Saturday’s opponent, Louisville had three of the top 40: Earl Clark (23), Terrence Williams (29) and Samardo Samuels (38).
Pitt also was the subject for the website’s Poll question of the day. Who is the best player on No. 1 Pitt? For what it’s worth, as of Friday night, DeJuan Blair had 60 percent of the vote, followed by Sam Young at 31 percent and Levance Fields at 10 percent.
• Rick Pitino certainly is among those who likes Blair. The Louisville coach praised on the sophomore center during a 23-minute press conference on Friday afternoon that was entertaining and insightful.
Here’s what Pitino, winner of 533 games in 22 years, said about Blair:
“Beside the fact that he is a very good basketball player, Blair is very long. His wing-span allows him to be probably the best offensive rebounder in college basketball. He’s also 265 pounds, and he’s very strong and he plays very hard. His wing-span is what makes him special.
“He is very tough on the post because he will reach around you and get a lot of steals. They will double on the post. They are going to protect their gem, so to speak, and make sure he doesn’t get in foul trouble.”
Pitino didn’t stop there. On Fields, “He makes it happen for them.”
Pitino goes on — “There’s really not a place they are weak at. It’s pretty imposing. They are pretty strong in every area. But we’ve faced them before. We know they are strong; they have always been strong.”
• Pitino also got some laughs when he spoke about modern-day coaches and players using “disrespect” for self-motivation.
“Everybody wants to be disrespected to gain this edge. That’s our culture today. Everybody is looking for ways to get disrespected, so they can play better. It’s hysterical but it’s true.”
Pitino went on about how Pitt uses this motivational ploy.
“‘We’re No. 1 in the country, but nobody thinks we’re No. 1,'” he said of Pitt’s reaction to the top-ranking. “Then why do they (coaches and writers) keep voting for them? They are making it up in their minds. We all believe they are No. 1 and they deserve it. But they don’t want it. I can imagine them going undefeated and in the final game, saying ‘They disrespected us all the way to the final game, now we’ll show them.’ “