Pitt could have a fight on its hands when Jamie Dixon goes for his 200th career win. The Panthers face mid-major American University, which has won the Patriot League twice in the past three seasons.
The Eagles are led by experienced coach, formerly of Virginia. While there, he guided the Cavaliers to two Sweet 16s and an Elite Eight appearance.
The Eagles, meanwhile, have been given low seeds and forced to face some big-time teams, but they've held their own. Three seasons ago in the NCAAs, American trailed No. 2 seed Tennessee by only three points with about six minutes to play. Two years ago, American led No. 3 seed Villanova by 14 points in a virtual road game in Philadelphia in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The game was tied with a few minutes left. The Eagles fell short both times, but proved they can take some of the nation's best teams down to the wire.
Need a reason to dislike American? Coincidentally, that second game possibly cost Pitt a trip to the Final Four, as Villanova went on to knock out the Panthers a few rounds later.
Now for some good news: This year's American team isn't as good as those two teams that won 20 games a few seasons ago, though they are considerably better than last year's team that couldn't make the NCAA tournament.
American does have one pretty good player, however. Vlad Moldoveanu is the second-leading scorer in the Patriot League, averaging nearly 20 points per game. The 6-foot-9 forward also averages 5.5 points per game and could be considered a fringe NBA prospect. Pitt's defense will need to begin with shutting him down.
In the end, Pitt should be able to win this game. But I don't expect American to be intimidated playing at the Pete.