Given Pittsburgh's recent success, you'd be shocked to know that the Panthers haven't won a Big East Tournament game in three years. Ashton Gibbs, the face of the Pittsburgh program, never won a Big East tournament game. The Panthers were 84-17 coming into this season, yet won zero Big East Tournament games in that stretch.
But the Panthers have lost more conference games this season than in the three previous seasons combined.
Kinda weird right?
Then it probably makes sense that their first Big East Tournament win in Ashton Gibbs' career would come after finishing their worst regular season in recent memory.
"The past three years we had a lot more success during the regular season," said head coach Jamie Dixon. "But it was a good win for us today". Senior leader Ashton Gibbs shared similar sentiments, "Yeah, it's definitely a little weird, especially the past three years we had a lot more success during the regular season. But it was a good win for us today."
The Panthers entered the 2012 Big East Tournament as the No.13-seed. Since 2006, the two times they've entered the tournament ranked outside one of the top three seeds, they've advanced to the Championship game, and won it all in 2008 as the No.7-seed.
Wouldn't that be a fitting way for Gibbs to end his Big East career?
After all, if there was one place in the world that embraced something like that, it would be Madison Square Garden.
Syracuse had no business winning the 2006 Big East Tournament, yet there they were, resting squarely on the shoulders of senior Gerry McNamara, cutting down the nets. If you need further evidence, look no further than Kemba Walker's tour of destruction last season.
This Pittsburgh team more than fits the role of the tournament darling. Like Syracuse and UConn, the Panthers were ranked in the preseason Top-25. Like Syracuse and UConn, the Panthers entered the tournament without a winning record in conference play, and failed to meet the lofty expectations set for the team. And like Syracuse and UConn, the Panthers have a savvy, no-nonsense guard who is more than capable of putting the entire team on his back.
The point is, if there's going to be a team to make a run this year, it's going to be Pittsburgh. If there's a player that's going to lead a memorable run, it's going to be Ashton Gibbs. "Yeah, I think it's definitely possible. We're just going to take one game at a time and worry about our next game and keep going."