Faced with that scenario, a road game at league-leading Boston College is far from what the doctor ordered. And yet, Dixon's squad likely put all questions of an NCAA bid to rest with a 72-50 romp before the stunned Eagles faithful.
What was the key? What else? Defense.
Pitt held Boston College to 32.2 percent from the floor, making the Eagles miss 40 of their 59 shots. Craig Smith led all scorers with 22 points, but the Eagles superstar was the only player on his team in double figures.
Meanwhile, the Panthers made 48.3 percent of their own shots, and had five players in double digits. It's the kind of balanced attack Dixon has been looking for, and it came at the perfect time to keep this weekend's game with Notre Dame from being an all-or-nothing showdown.
Part of Pitt's recent struggles is the Panthers failure to close teams out. Pitt led West Virginia by 14 points in the second half and lost; they led UConn 63-62 with 4:02 left to play and didn't hit another field goal after that.
Pitt has now beaten Boston College six consecutive times. In addition, the Panthers have knocked the Eagles out of the last three Big East tournaments.
- Lineup: Point guard Carl Krauser, shooting guard Antonio Graves, center Chris Taft, forward Levon Kendall, forward Chevon Troutman.
- Quote IT!: "This is the real Pittsburgh team right here. That's really how we play." -- Pittsburgh point guard Carl Krauser, after his team's victory over Boston College.
- Upcoming Games: at Notre Dame, March 5.
- Key: Pitt slipped past Notre Dame at home on Feb. 12 despite getting very little from its frontcourt -- Chevon Troutman had 13 points but only four rebounds, and Chris Taft managed just a single point. The Panthers will need both to play up to par to earn the season's sweep, and it will also need to defend the three much better. Notre Dame made 14 of its 29 long-range attempts, and that includes Colin Falls' 1-for-10 performance.
- Roster Rundown: Chevon Troutman and Carl Krauser scored 43 of the Panthers' 64 points against Connecticut.
- Coming Up Big: John DeGroat has been a big disappointment this season, averaging just 1.7 points after coming in with the reputation as a scorer. He came up big against Boston College, however, with 10 points and seven rebounds in his 15 minutes.