In Pitt's loss to Syracuse in the Big East Tournament, Jamie Dixon and the Panthers fell away from a recurring strategy that gave them so much success during the regular season. Pittsburgh's depth has been one of its greatest strengths throughout the season but against Syracuse the team's five bench players saw significantly less floor time than they had before the Big East Tournament. In Pitt's previous 32 games the bench played an average of 76.6 total minutes a game, compared to just 49 versus The Orange.
For Pitt to be successful in the NCAA Tournament the Panthers must get back to their talented 10 man rotation that helped them finish the regular season as the 20th ranked team in the country and compile an impressive 24-8 record.
It is obvious some players are more important to the team's tournament hopes than others. Here is a list of Pitt's 10 players ranked according to NCAA Tournament importance.
10) Trey Ziegler- Ziegler is not the least talented player on the team but is the least valuable to an extended tournament run. The junior transfer has yet to find a consistent role in Jamie Dixon's methodical offense and owns the second worse free throw percentage on the team.
9) Durand Johnson- Johnson is an energy guy and has hit some very big shots this season. Opponents know Johnson has no problem shooting from anywhere on the court which can help open up the floor for his teammates. Johnson is last on the team in minutes per game at 11.7 and second to last in total points scored with 126.
8) Cameron Wright- Wright is the most solid defender on the roster. Every Pitt team that has made a run in the NCAA tournament has had a player like Wright, who could limit the impact of an opponent's star player, like Wright did against C.J. Fair in Pitt's win against Syracuse on February 2nd. Jeron Brown and Jermaine Dixon come to mind when thinking about Wright's defense, although he has yet to develop the scoring touch that Brown or Dixon had.
7) J.J. Moore- Moore averages the most playing time off the bench at 18.7 minutes per game and is the fourth leading scorer on the team. Moore's size allows him to play multiple positions making him one of the most versatile players for the Panthers. On a very poor free throw shooting team, Moore's 82 percent from the line is tops.
6) Dante Taylor- Jamie Dixon says that Taylor is the best teammate he has ever had the pleasure of coaching. The senior is normally the first man off the bench, usually replacing either Talib Zanna or Steven Adams because of the pair's tendency to get into foul trouble. Taylor is one of two senior leaders on the team and statistically is the second best offensive rebounder in the Big East, behind Notre Dame's Jack Cooley.
5) James Robinson- As a true freshman, Robinson is one of the most efficient ball handlers in country. His 2.9 assist to turnover to assist ratio is good for 8th in the NCAA. Robinson has shown great improvement from the beginning of the year as seems to have a very bright future in Oakland; for now though, number five on the list will do.
4) Talib Zanna- Zanna is perhaps the polarizing player on the team. At the start of the season he was a dominant force down low but once Pitt began playing their Big East schedule, Zanna's production has gone way down. Zanna has shown flashes of his early season form recently, in particular his 14 point and 19 rebound effort against Villanova on March 3rd, and will need to continue to do so to be effective in the Big Dance.
3) Steven Adams- Adams has not performed the way many Pitt fans had hoped he would after arriving in Oakland as Jamie Dixon's most highly touted recruit ever. The freshman center has looked timid throughout the season but has the size and presence to change how the game is played in the post. It is never a good idea to look ahead in the Tournament but if Pitt can get by Wichita State in the first round, Adams will be the first line of defense against Gonzaga's talented big man Kelly Olynyk, should both teams advance.
2) Lamar Patterson- Patterson is Pitt's best all-around scorer and has proven to be a clutch performer, for instance his game tying three-pointer as time expired against Cincinnati. Patterson averages the second most points per game on the team with 10 and can score in a variety of ways. If one player has the potential to take over a game on the offensive end of the floor it is Patterson.
1) Tray Woodall- Woodall is undoubtedly the team leader and has more tournament experience than any of his teammates. He is the only player left from the Panthers' Elite Eight team in 2009. He leads the team in scoring and is the best candidate to take a crucial shot with the game on the line. It is no coincidence Pitt's season took a turn for the worse last year when Woodall went down with a groin injury; he is the glue that holds the team together. If Woodall does not play his best basketball it will be a short stay in the West region for the Panthers.

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