NEW YORK (KDKA/AP) — The Pitt Panthers are headed to the NCAA tournament as the No. 1 seed in the Southeast Region.
The Panthers were installed as a top seed Sunday. Ohio State, Kansas and defending champion Duke were also awarded top seeds in this year’s tournament, which is an expanded version of March Madness that will include 68 teams.
Pitt will open Thursday in Washington against the winner of Tuesday’s play-in game between North Carolina-Asheville (19-13) and Arkansas-Little Rock (19-16).
The Panthers are among a record 11 Big East teams to reach the NCAA tournament in a season.
Ousted from the Big East tournament in a loss to UConn in the quarterfinals after earning a double bye for a third consecutive season, Pitt becomes the fourth Big East team in three seasons to get a No. 1 seed after being upset in the league quarterfinals.
In 2009, the Panthers also received a top seed in the NCAA tournament despite losing in the Big East quarters.
Meanwhile, another local team is also heading to the NCAA tournament.
Fueled by a run to the Big Ten tournament title game, star guard Talor Battle and the Penn State Nittany Lions (19-14) drew a No. 10 seed in the West Region and a first-round game Thursday against No. 7 seed Temple (25-7).
It ends a decade-long NCAA tournament drought for Penn State.
The outlook was not very good just two weeks ago though after a 21-point loss at home to Ohio State; however, the Nittany Lions won their next four, including victories over Wisconsin and Michigan State in the Big Ten tourney before a respectable 71-60 loss to the Buckeyes in the Big Ten title game.
The last time the Nittany Lions made the NCAAs in 2001, they upset North Carolina in the second round to set up a regional semifinal date against the state-rival Owls. Temple won 84-72.
Also, the West Virginia Mountaineers earned a No. 5 seed in the East Region of the NCAA tournament. They will face the winner of the First Four matchup between No. 12 seeds UAB and Clemson.