Pitt's ACC basketball debut Jan. 4 at N.C. State

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Pitt released its 31-game men's basketball schedule, and, among the highlights, are two trips to New York, a home date with Penn State and nationally televised home games against national powerhouses Duke and Syracuse.

Pitt will play 16 games on national television, 18 Atlantic Coast Conference games, 18 home games, nine road games and four games on neutral courts.

The Panthers will play every ACC opponent at least once and play four conference teams -- Clemson, Maryland, North Carolina State and Syracuse -- twice.

Pitt's ACC home games will be Jan. 6 vs. Maryland, Jan. 11 vs. Wake Forest, Jan. 21 vs. Clemson, Jan. 27 vs. Duke, Feb. 2 vs. Virginia, Feb. 8 vs. Virginia Tech, Feb. 12 vs. Syracuse, Feb. 23 vs. Florida State and March 3 vs. North Carolina State.

The Panthers' ACC road games will be Jan. 4 at North Carolina State, Jan. 14 at Georgia Tech, Jan. 18 at Syracuse, Jan. 25 at Maryland, Feb. 5 at Miami, Feb. 15 at North Carolina, Feb. 26 at Boston College, March 1 at Notre Dame and March 8 at Clemson.

Dixon said the conference schedule is new and exciting to fans, but provides many of the same challenges -- and big-name opponents -- the Panthers had in the Big East.

"It is more of the same in terms of being a part of the best conference in the country, some are saying the best collection of teams in history," Dixon said.

"Our non-conference schedule covers a lot of the things we needed to get done, it enabled us to play some rivalry games in Duquesne and Penn State and play some different styles of teams and, of course, play in some great tournaments as well.

"I think it is great when you look at the names of the teams and realize what some of them have accomplished in terms of winning over the course of the last 100 years of college basketball. And I think that playing on national television is something you can never take for granted, so it says a lot about what we are trying to accomplish that we have so many opportunities."

Pitt's first trip to New York will be Nov. 25-26 when the Panthers compete in the Legends Classic at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Pitt will play Texas Tech Nov. 25 then either Stanford or Houston Nov. 26 in consolation or championship game.

The Panthers second trip to New York will be Dec. 17 when they play Cincinnati as part of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m.) as part of a doubleheader that also will pit Florida against Memphis.

"We are going to try to continue to play in New York City as much as we can," Dixon said. "I think part of that is the best events are in New York and the fact that we've been invited to play in two of them this year is great for our program."

Pitt will play exhibitions against UC-San Diego (Oct. 25) and Slippery Rock (Nov. 1) before opening its regular season Nov. 8 at home against Savannah State .

The Panthers will play eight other non-conference home games against Fresno State (Nov. 12), Howard (Legends Classic, Nov. 17), Lehigh (Legends Classic, Nov. 20), Penn State (Big Ten/ACC Challenge, Dec. 3), Loyola Marymount (Dec. 6), Youngstown State (Dec. 14), Cal-Poly (Dec. 21) and Albany (Dec. 31).

The annual City Game against Duquesne will be at Consol Energy Center Nov. 30 but the Panthers will not play Robert Morris, which Dixon said was beyond his control.

"You can't play everybody, and sometimes things just don't work out," Dixon said.

"The reality is it isn't easy to schedule games and things come up. We'd like to play Robert Morris and we'd like to play Penn State, but it doesn't always work out."

The 61st annual Atlantic Coast Conference tournament is scheduled March 12-16 at the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina. The 2014 NCAA tournament begins March 20-23.

The Panthers return three starters from a team that finished 24-9 overall and advanced to their 11th NCAA tournament in the past 12 seasons.

NOTE -- The NCAA granted Rutgers transfer Derrick Randall a special waiver to play for Pitt this season. Randall, a 6-foot-8 forward, was one of four players who left Rutgers in the wake of the Mike Rice scandal, and all four received waivers to not have to sit out a year. Randall already is enrolled at Pitt.

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Paul Zeise: pzeise@post-gazette.com or Twitter @paulzeise or 412-263-1720.


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