While looking through the most recent Pomeroy ratings this morning, I was intrigued when I saw Pittsburgh at No. 2. The Panthers, who are 6-0 after thrashing Stanford in Brooklyn last night, have looked great so far in the young season but have not played anyone of note aside from the Cardinal. Pitt has won every game by at least 19 points but it has come against a putrid schedule. This has become the norm for head coach Jamie Dixon over the years and his team will not play another quality opponent until it meets Cincinnati in New York on December 17. While the Pomeroy ratings are a nice gauge of where teams are relative to each other, they are not the be-all and end-all. Pitt’s No. 2 ranking is no doubt inflated, but there are reasons for optimism.In the past, the best Pitt teams have been those that defend well (specifically inside the arc) and dominate the offensive glass. So far this year, Pitt is doing those things at a very high level. Some of that perception is inflated by the weak schedule but this already appears to be a better team than the one that was a #8 seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament. So long as senior Lamar Patterson and junior Talib Zanna keep playing at a high level, Pittsburgh will be in the mix as one of the better teams in the ACC.
Perhaps no team has been more impressive in the first few weeks of the season than Massachusetts. Now in his sixth year at the helm, Derek Kellogg finally has it going in Amherst. The program achieved its first AP top 25 ranking in 15 years this past Monday thanks to a 6-0 start. The Minutemen just won the Charleston Classic and have built a very impressive resume along the way. Five of UMass’ six wins have come against teams in the top 100 of the Pomeroy ratings and four of those have been away from the Mullins Center. This team is no fluke. Kellogg has them playing at a high-flying pace and the roster is as talented as ever, including go-to guys Chaz Williams and Cady Lalanne. Williams is a fantastic senior point guard who can dazzle you on any given night while Lalanne has been a beast in the low post. Lalanne’s offensive rebounding percentage ranks eighth in the nation among individuals and he has averaged a double-double over the first six games. UMass’ schedule does not let up with quality games against BYU, Ohio, Florida State and Providence still to play before Atlantic 10 battles begin. Their resume is already impressive but the Minutemen have a terrific opportunity to build perhaps the best non-conference resume in the nation over the next few weeks.