Pitt 5th In AP Poll

The Big East set a Division I-A men's basketball record with eight teams seeded in the NCAA Tournament this past spring, and if the preseason rankings hold true then the Conference should surpass that performance this season.

Pittsburgh, the defending Big East Tournament champion, followed a sixth-place ranking in the coaches' poll Wednesday with a No. 5 ranking in the Associated Press writers' poll today. The Panthers follow No. 1 North Carolina, No. 2 Connecticut, No. 3 Louisville and No. 4 UCLA. Those were the top four teams in the ESPN-USA Today coaches' poll as well.

Other Big East teams in the AP poll include No. 9 Notre Dame, No. 16 Marquette, No. 22 Georgetown and No. 23 Villanova. Syracuse and West Virginia are among those schools also receiving votes in both polls.

For the fourth consecutive season and 10th time in school history, Pitt will enter a season ranked among the nation's Top 25. The Panthers were picked by Big East coaches to finish third in the Conference's annual preseason voting announced October 22 at media day. Senior forward Sam Young was selected to the preseason All-Big East First Team.

Here is how Pitt has fared in preseason rankings during the past 20 years:

1986-87: 16-AP, 9-UPI, 7-USA Today/CNN

1987-88: 4-AP, 5-UPI, 3-USA Today/CNN

1989-90: 18-AP

1990-91: 12-AP, 15-UPI

2002-03: 5-AP, 4-USA Today

2003-04: 22-AP, 22-USA Today

2004-05: 17-AP, 17-USA Today

2006-07: 4-AP, 5-USA Today

2007-08: 20-USA Today, 22-AP

2008-09: 6-USA Today, 5-AP

Pitt returns three starters, each of its top three scorers and seven of its top 10 players from a squad that captured the Big East Tournament title, finished 27-10 overall and advanced to NCAA Tourney play for a seventh consecutive season. Seniors Young, Levance Fields and Tyrell Biggs all return to the squad along with sophomores DeJuan Blair, Gilbert Brown (redshirt), Bradley Wanamaker and Gary McGhee.

Pitt opens its season with exhibition games at the Petersen Events Center against Seton Hill Sunday at 4 p.m. and LaRoche Sunday, Nov. 9 at 1 p.m.

Here are the complete AP and ESPN-USA Today polls.


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