ESPN is always talking about "NEXT." We are interested in spinning it forward and looking ahead. Well, I am going to tell you about "OTHER." We think we know the four best teams in college basketball, but if you accept that North Carolina, Florida, UCLA and Wisconsin are the No. 1 seeds and the quartet that is most likely to be in the Final Four in Atlanta, what are the "OTHER" teams that are most likely to join them in the Elite Eight? For good measure, what "OTHER" teams would be considered the best of the rest, to make an even eight of the "OTHER" contenders to stroll up and down Peachtree Street in Hot-lanta?
Why? You have heard the Panthers talked about in this rarefied air before, but Pitt has always seemed to sputter earlier in the NCAA Tournament than we expected. This Pitt team is different. No Pitt team in the past six years has scored with the ease of this team, and no Pitt team has had the quality depth on the perimeter. This Pitt team guards well like most Pitt teams have, but Pitt '07 is one of the most efficient offensive teams in the nation -- and a very good 3-point shooting team with multiple threats. The ball is not dominated by any one guard, and the Panthers are an outstanding passing team whose big men pass it almost as well as their guards. Most good shooting teams are good passing teams, and this team's shooting opportunities are set up by very good passing and unselfishness.
Why Not? Pitt does not shoot free throws well at all as a team, and down the stretch in tough games, the free-throw issues could make the difference.