On the heels of a week where they lost to Notre Dame and squeaked by Mike Rice and Rutgers, the Pitt Panthers ended their brief reign at #2 in the country today, dropping to #4 in both the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and AP poll. Pitt now trails #1 Ohio State (22-0), #2 Kansas (20-1) and #3 Texas (18-3), a team the Panthers beat 68-66 earlier this season.
All in all, seven of the top 17 teams in the rankings were from the Big East, including Pitt (4), UConn (6), Notre Dame (9), Villanova (12), Georgetown (13), Louisville (15), and Syracuse (17). WVU (25) gives the conference eight of the top 25 teams in the nation.
Of local interest, Duquesne didn't crack the top 25, but did notch 15 voting points in the AP Poll that would put them at a tie for #33 in the country. The Dukes are 7-0/15-5 and tied with Xavier for first placed in the A-10, leading the nation in assists per game and coming in 10th in points per game. Duquense and Xavier face off on February 13 at the Palumbo Center in a showdown that could determine the A-10 regular season champion.
And Penn State's recent success hasn't gone unrecognized, either. The Nittany Lions came in a point behind Duquesne in the rankings despite woeful numbers in offense (262nd in the nation) and rebounding (265th); but they're aided by three top-25 wins, beating Michigan State, Illinois, and Wisconsin. PSU also lost by one point to then-#13 Purdue and fell by just three to #1 Ohio State this season. They'll have another top-25 challenge coming their way on Tuesday, traveling to Illinois for a rematch of the January 11 Lion win.
As for Pitt, they'll get nearly the entire week off, not taking the court until a Saturday contest at The Pete against Cincinnati (5-4, 18-4). The Bearcats, ranked 30th in the AP poll, are coming off a 66-55 loss versus West Virginia on Saturday. They're led on offense by G Dion Dixon, who averages a lowly 12 PPG.