David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
The low point, you ask? Score one for Captain Obvious, I know.
Call it a loser's mentality, but most Pitt fans had accepted the fate of their team entering Saturday. Despite the audacious words of Wright and Patterson, most of them would have been content to declare moral victory and start looking forward to next season had the Panthers simply given top South Region seed Florida a tough game.
But the Gators devoured the Panthers with their defense all day. A generally mediocre showing by Pitt, coupled with a second-half run by Florida, ended the former's season at 26-10 overall with a 61-45 defeat at the Amway Center.
As has become tradition in Pittsburgh, an NCAA tournament exit, particularly within the first week of play, became a launchpad for the vocal minority who wants sweeping change, including Dixon's dismissal, without re-examining their own overly idealistic standards.
Allow me to be the voice of reason:
Not every nefarious thing in sports requires a scapegoat. Sometimes you just aren't the better team.
Winning the NCAA tournament isn't just about having the right talent, it's also about having the right matchups. Initially, Pitt drew a very favorable matchup against Colorado. Then, perhaps inevitably, it drew, on paper, the worst possible matchup it could have when the Gators got past Albany.
Defensively, Pitt put up enough of a fight to hold Florida to 40 percent shooting from the field, trailing the Gators by just five at the half. Offensively, the 2013-14 Panthers have never been without warts, and Florida, with its own raw talent, exposed them late in the game. Plus, the Gators ended with a 38-31 total edge off the glass.
Between a perpetually deliberate halfcourt team (Pitt) and a skilled team that loves to run (Florida), it wasn't surprising to see the scales tipped in Billy Donovan's favor.