The non-conference campaign for Pittsburgh Basketball last season did not go according to plan. When both Nike Sibande and Ithiel Horton went down hours before the start of the season, that created a snowball effect that the team couldn’t get out of.
The Panthers lost the season-opener to The Citadel, 78-63. It was another first-game loss in the Jeff Capel era for the program, the first of six losses out of 11 games in the overall non-conference schedule. The team finished 5-6, including losses to UMBC and Monmouth, as well as close home losses to Vanderbilt and Minnesota in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
The only true positive out of the non-conference last season came in a neutral site/road game win over St. John’s in the last-second basket from Jamarius Burton. Of course, there was an asterisk in that game with star forward Julian Champagnie out with an injury.
The Panthers are hoping that a solid offseason can help jumpstart a much better early start to the 2022-23 season. And now we know the opponents of the program.
The most notable game from the schedule is the return of the “Backyard Brawl” between Pitt and West Virginia. The Mountaineers had a comfortable win between the programs last season and have won five straight games, dating back to 2012. Two unofficial opponents for the Panthers come from the Legacy Classic, with Arizona State, Michigan, and VCU among the options.
Who are the top opponents for the program in the non-conference and which mid-majors should the Panthers watch out for? Here’s how I would rank the potential opponents.