Hubert Davis backs Pitt for NCAA Tournament, but loss to Tar Heels leaves Panthers in limbo

WASHINGTON (AP) — Now all Jeff Capel and his team can do is wait and hope.

Pittsburgh had a chance to take a giant step toward an NCAA Tournament berth Friday night, but after a late rally, the Panthers allowed a 7-0 run and lost 72-65 to No. 4 North Carolina in the ACC Tournament semifinals.

“I’m not a bracketologist. I’m not an expert. I’m a basketball coach. I try to worry about my team,” said Capel, Pittsburgh’s coach. “I know we’ve gotten better. I know if you look over the past — since January 20th — I think we’ve played as well as anyone in college basketball.”

Hurting Pitt’s case is a November home loss to a Missouri team that went winless in the SEC this season. The Panthers played well enough in league play to earn the No. 4 seed in this conference tournament, but aside from North Carolina and Duke and probably Clemson, nobody in the ACC this season was better than a bubble team.

Two of those bubble teams met in the quarterfinals when Pitt beat Wake Forest. Then the Panthers hung right there with North Carolina. It was 62-all when RJ Davis put the Tar Heels ahead to stay with a 3-pointer.

Pitt has never reached the ACC Tournament title game. This was its second appearance in the semis.

“There’s no way that you can look at this game and look at Pitt and not say it’s definitively an NCAA Tournament team — and not just an NCAA Tournament team, a team that could go far in the tournament,” North Carolina coach Hubert Davis said. “Extremely well coached. Coach Capel does a fantastic job.”

Pitt was part of the First Four in last year’s NCAA Tournament, then won two games to reach the round of 32.


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