NCAAB Pittsburgh Panthers

NCAA Division: Division I
Conference: Atlantic Coast
Past Conferences: Big East, Eastern Athletic, Eastern Collegiate, Eastern Intercollegiate, Independent

City: Pittsburgh, PA

Stadium: Petersen Events Center

NCAA Tournaments: 1941, 1957, 1958, 1963, 1974, 1981, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016


National Championships: None

Conference Titles: 4

Team History

Pitt was one of the early national powers under head coach Doc Carlson, who revolutionized several aspects of the college game, including long road trips that allowed the Panthers to play many teams in the mid-west and west that others didn’t play for decades. His team was recognized by various power polls and rating systems as a national champ two times before postseason tournaments came around.


Later, there were decades of mediocre play in Pittsburgh before the team put something together in the early 1970s, led by Billy Knight, who averaged 22.2 points in his three years with the Panthers. Knight guided the 1973-74 team to 19 straight wins at one point and the school’s first berth in the NCAA Tournament in 11 years.


That squad lost to eventual champ N.C. State in the Elite Eight, Knight moved on to the ABA and NBA, and the Panthers didn’t sniff the NCAA Tournament again until 1981.


In 1982, Pitt became the ninth member of the Big East, and it didn’t take long to become one of the league’s elites. Paul Evans took over as head coach in 1986-87 and led the team to 25 wins, tying the program record at the time. Behind a star-studded front line that included Charles Smith -the program’s all-time leading scorer- and Jerome Lane -forever immortalized for the time he shattered the backboard on a fast-break dunk- the Panthers were second in the Big East that season and won it in 1987-88.


There would be just two NCAA Tournament appearances between 1989 and 2001, however, as the team struggled to stay relevant. All-American guard Brandin Knight helped change that, leading the 2002 and 2003 teams to the Big Dance. Those teams won the Big East regular season twice and the conference title once, but they saw both seasons end in the Sweet 16.


Head coach Ben Howland left for UCLA before the 2003-04 season. His replacement, Jamie Dixon, didn’t miss a beat and ushered in the most sustained level of success the program has ever enjoyed. Dixon’s first team won 31 games, again claimed the Big East regular season title and again reached the Sweet 16. NCAAB odds for Pitt would dramatically improve over the next decade or so.


In 13 seasons at the helm, Dixon would guide the Panthers to the Big East tourney title game four times, winning it once, and 11 NCAA Tournament appearances. The 2008-09 squad, featuring star forward DeJuan Blair, reached No. 1 in the country at one point and made it to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1974.


There was another Big East regular-season crown in 2011, but Dixon moved on to coach his alma mater TCU after the 2015-16 season, and it’s been rough going ever since. The team was a combined 24-41 in two seasons under Kevin Stallings and has been under .500 in all four seasons since former Duke star Jeff Capel took over.


The 2021-22 team was particularly downtrodden. Pitt Panthers team stats exhibited an offensively inept squad that ranked 348th nationally in scoring (61.5 points, the program’s lowest average since 1969).

All-Time Records

  • Points Scored

    • Charles Smith: 2,045

    • Clyde Vaughan: 2,011

    • Larry Harris: 1,914


  • Rebounds

    • Sam Clancy: 1,342

    • Charles Smith: 987

    • Jerome Lane: 970


  • Assists

    • Brandin Knight: 785

    • Sean Miller: 744

    • Levance Fields: 645


  • Wins

    • Doc Carlson: 366

    • Jamie Dixon: 328

    • Robert Timmons: 174


  1. What Is the Highest Win Total in Program History?


Pitt won 31 games twice: first in 2003-04 and then again in 2008-09.


  1. What Was the Worst Season in Program History?


The Kevin Stallings era at Pitt featured two losing seasons, the second of which -in 2017-18- saw the Panthers go 0-18 in ACC action. The final home game was a 66-37 loss to Virginia in which Pitt scored seven first-half points.


  1. Who Is the Greatest Player in Program History?


Charles Smith is the program’s all-time leader in points and blocks, and he ranks second in rebounds. He was the best player on a team that went to the NCAA Tournament three times in his four years, earning Big East Rookie of the Year as a freshman and Player of the Year as a senior.


Smith averaged 26.0 points and 11.0 rebounds in the 1988 NCAA Tournament before leaving for the NBA, where he twice averaged over 20.0 points per game in a nine-year career.

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