Ever since Butler knocked off the No. 2 seed Florida Gators to reach the Final Four, the question has to be asked - shouldn't Pitt fans feel better about the team's loss to Butler?
First, regardless of the teams Butler has beaten in its improbable run, the Panthers were still a better team. The regular season proved it and head coach Brad Stevens said as much following the game:
"We're not better than Old Dominion. We're not better than Pittsburgh," Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "We just had the ball last."
That was more than coach-speak - it was fact.
While Pitt was out winning games against teams like UConn, Syracuse, and Texas, Butler's best win heading into the tournament came against Florida State - a good, but not great squad. Pitt had a superior team, and if the same game were played ten times, the Panthers probably win seven or eight of those contests. And while the Bulldogs deserve all the credit in the world for playing some great basketball over the past few weeks, Pitt is indeed the better team. That's no shot at Butler, which has earned its way to the Final Four ... it just is what it is.
Second, Pitt's success (or failure, in this case) shouldn't be determined by how other teams perform. The fact that no other No. 1 seeds made the Final Four this year doesn't mean that it's easier to accept that Pitt couldn't get it done. Similarly, Pitt's success is independent of what Butler did against other teams. Just because Butler managed to beat Florida doesn't mean that Pitt fans should argue that they lost to a pretty good team and feel better about it.
If anything, Pitt should be looking at this year's Final Four as a missed opportunity. In watching all of the NCAA tournament preview shows, many pundits had Pitt falling to Kansas in the semifinals. Had the Panthers reached the Final Four, they'd be a heavy favorite against No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth. I think it's fair to say that the Panthers were capable of beating either UConn or Kentucky in the national championship game. Pitt not only had a chance to reach the elusive Final Four but could have had an excellent shot at winning the whole shootin' match.
No, Butler reaching the Final Four shouldn't make Pitt's loss hurt less. It should actually make it hurt even more.