Different year, same story: Pitt dominates the Big East and underachieves in the NCAA tournament.
This is the life that Pitt fans have become accustomed to in the Jamie Dixon era. While Dixon without question is a phenomenal coach (he has the most wins ever by a coach in his first eight seasons at 214), the absolute fact is that Pitt cannot make the jump to the next level.
Yes, Pitt recruits differently than other teams. Dixon recruits players who he believes will stay for four years and will graduate from Pitt, not one-and-done McDonald's All-Americans.
While this creates the ultimate "team-approach" to basketball, it leaves a void come tournament time. Pitt has never had the go-to scorer who you could count on at any point.
Julius Page is the closest thing that Pitt has had to a pure scorer in the past 10 years, but even he wasn't a dominant scorer. I'm talking about a Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Scottie Reynolds, Kemba Walker-type. It was predetermined that these guys would get the ball in crunch time. Pitt has no idea who will take its last shot.
For example, look at the last Panthers possession before all of the fouling madness. They had a shot-clock violation due to indecisiveness about who should take the last shot.
While Dixon has done a fantastic job in the past eight years at Pitt, it appears that he may not be the man to take the Panthers to the next level, unless he changes his recruiting tactics.
There's no shame in the fact that Dixon can't get Pitt to the next level—look at Ben Howland. He got Pitt to win the Big East tournament, yet could not get them to go deep in the NCAA tournament. Then, he went to UCLA and took them to three consecutive Final Fours and had proven players in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love.
In no way am I suggesting that Pitt fire Jamie Dixon because that would be a PR nightmare. But high-profile opportunities could open up in the offseason, and maybe Dixon should look into them.
A few years ago, Dixon looked long and hard into taking over at Arizona State, but decided to stay at Pitt.
Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea for his sake if he decided to explore other opportunities.