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March 17, 2013

Pitt is headed west as a No. 8 seed

Pitt's 2013 NCAA Tournament will exist in the west, as the Panthers drew a No. 8 seed in the West Region of the brackets announced Sunday night.

Pitt's opening game will be against No. 9 seed Wichita State in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 21. If the Panthers win, they will face West Region No. 1 seed Gonzaga (barring an upset by No. 16 seed Southern University) on Saturday, March 23.

If Pitt can get past Wichita State and Gonzaga, the Panthers will advance to West Region semifinals in Los Angeles; the potential opponents for Pitt in that round would be No. 4 seed Kansas State, No. 5 seed Wisconsin, No. 12 seed Ole Miss, or the winner of the No. 13 seed play-in game between Boise State and La Salle.

The other half of the West Region bracket has No. 2 seed Ohio State, No. 3 seed New Mexico, No. 6 seed Arizona, No. 7 seed Notre Dame, No. 10 seed Iowa State, No. 11 seed Belmont, No. 14 seed Harvard, and No. 15 seed Iona.

First up for Pitt is Wichita State. The Shockers beat Creighton in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament last Sunday to finish 26-8 overall and 12-6 in the MVC. Wichita State ranks outside the top 100 nationally in field-goal percentage and points per game but is No. 27 in the nation in rebounds per game.

If the Panthers get past the Shockers, they will face 30-2 Gonzaga, which finished the season ranked No. 1 in the polls. The Bulldogs are one of the best shooting teams in the nation and rolled to a 16-0 record in the West Coast Conference. Gonzaga's only losses this season came against Illinois on Dec.8 and at Butler on Jan. 19.

Pitt is one of seven Big East teams to make the tournament this year, a group that also includes No. 1 overall seed Louisville, No. 2 seed Georgetown, No. 3 seed Marquette, No. 4 seed Syracuse, No. 7 seed Notre Dame No. 9 seed Villanova, and No. 10 seed Cincinnati. The Panthers finished the season 24-8 overall and 12-6 in the Big East; they were bounced from the Big East Tournament by Syracuse on Thursday.

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