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Pitt on verge of ending NCAA men’s soccer tournament drought

Photo by Jared D. Todhunter

Pitt on verge of ending NCAA men’s soccer tournament drought

The NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Committee will announce the 48-team field for the 2019 bracket on Monday, Nov. 18 — and Pitt men’s soccer team will await its fate as they appear to be in good shape to claim an at-large bid in the tournament.

A berth in the NCAA tournament will end a 54-year drought for the long-standing program, as the last time the Panthers played in the NCAA tournament was in 1965, when it lost to East Stroudsburg, 2-0. Its only other appearance came in 1962, when they also lost in the first round, 4-3, to Maryland.

In 2019, out of the 48 teams that will make the tournament, 21 are already in through automatic qualification by winning a conference tournament or, in the case of the Ivy League, Pac-12 and West Coast Conferences, a regular-season title.

The remaining 27 bids will be determined by the committee on an at-large basis.

Unlike the months and months of pre-selection ‘bracketology’ that takes place prior to the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, there really aren’t many places we can turn to look to see where Pitt stands.

Pitt, currently ranked 25th in the United Soccer Coaches poll and holding the 32nd spot in the latest Ratings Performance Index (RPI) rankings, and having reached the ACC semifinals for the first time in its history, by all intents and purposes have a pretty strong portfolio to get into the field. The ACC has in recent years sent eight or more teams to the the NCAA tournament. However, there were a number of upsets in the conference tournaments, and nothing is guaranteed.

Of the 21 teams that have earned automatic bids, 14 sit below Pitt in the RPI.

38. Campbell

40. Seattle U.

41. Loyola Chicago

42. James Madison,

68. Lehigh

71. Coastal Carolina

72. Rhode Island,

74. Iona,

100. Wright St.,

101. Mercer

107, West Virginia,

117. NJIT

124. Denver

126. Fairleigh Dickinson

Yes, you read that correctly, one of those teams sitting below Pitt includes West Virginia, who will make the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year, by winning the MAC title on Sunday, even though they had an overall losing record and were a sixth seed in the MAC tournament.

WVU men beat Bowling Green, 1-0, in MAC conference final to earn NCAA tournament berth

If you do the math, you would think the Panthers are a pretty sure bet to get in — right?

With 14 teams getting automatic bids that have higher RPI than Pitt, that leaves seven teams among the top 32 in the RPI that have qualified, leaving 27 at-large berths.

If they squeeze the remaining top 25 teams based on RPI alone, Pitt would get in.

Lets take a little closer look at Pitt’s resume.

Pitt was 9-6-2 overall, finished second in the ACC’s Coastal Division to top five Virginia, and beat the previously top-ranked Cavaliers on the road. The Panthers have defeated two teams inside the top 25 in the RPI including #1 Virginia and #7 Virginia Tech. Four ACC schools are among the top 10 including No. 1 Virginia, No. 5 Wake Forest and No. 4 Clemson and No. 7 Virginia Tech.

In the ACC semifinal, again on the road against a top-ranked team, Pitt gave Clemson all it could handle.

Pitt falls to top-ranked Clemson, 1-0, in ACC semifinal

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TOURNAMENT SELECTION SHOW & BRACKETS?

The selection show on Monday begins at 1 p.m. ET on NCAA.com.

The 2019 NCAA DI men’s soccer championship, better known as ‘College Cup,’ is scheduled for Dec. 13 and 15 — hosted this year in ACC country, at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina.

CHAMPIONSHIP INFO: View the 2019 bracket | Buy tickets | Broadcast schedule

Additionally, the top 16 teams will be seeded 1-16 and host the opening rounds of the tournament. In a mid-season look at a potential Top 16, Georgetown was No. 1. You can find the rest of those rankings here.

The 2019 NCAA tournament culminates at WakeMed Soccer Park for the 61st men’s soccer championship. Both semifinal matches take place at on Dec.13, first at 6 p.m. ET followed by an 8:30 p.m. kickoff.  The two semifinal winners will meet in the College Cup final at 6 p.m. on Dec. 15. All three games will be televised on ESPNU.

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets including Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the United States. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

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