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Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh: Orange Play The Role Of Underdog

If there's any school out there likely it beat Syracuse, it's Pitt. And that spells bad news for the 18-0 start and desire to match the best start in school history.

Compound that with the fact that Kris Joseph will not be playing and things look even worse.

Add the fact that Syracuse will be playing this game in the most hostile environment they've played in all season and it just gets more dire.

Pepper in the notion that, if there's any team out there that seems to know how to beat the 2-3 Zone, it's Pittsburgh, and you feel a slight headache coming on.

Throw in the stat that Pitt is 50-1 at home since February 2008 an owns an 8-0 record vs. top-5 ranked teams there and this is just getting silly.

Top it all off with the knowledge that we have to listen to Dick F**king Vitale all night long and this could end up being torture.

So with all of that out of the way, that leaves us with this thought: No. 4 Syracuse has nothing to lose Monday night when they face off against the No. 5 Panthers, so we might as well play our asses off without regard for record or ranking. I know, that sounds weird and wrong but, in this case, it works.

I mean, everyone expects us to lose this game. Whether it's because they feel we're paper tigers or simply because we're playing a team that has our number and we're playing without our leading scorer, it seems to be a foregone conclusion to folks like Jeff Goodman that we can already pencil in the L.

So let them think that. And if they get it, so be it. But maybe we can pull off the "upset" anyway. And even then, it won't matter. Someone will just say Syracuse hasn't played a game outside NY, NJ or Pennsylvania and attempt to devalue what our team has accomplished. So be it, comes with being a Syracuse basketball fan.

Syracuse has its deepest bench in years and it's going to need it. Without Kris Joseph the Orange will be leaning on James Southerland, C.J. Fair, Dion Waiters an Baye Moussa-Keita to eat up those minutes an make them count. Southerland's been coming on strong in recent weeks, we'll find out just he's got in him tonight. Reliance on the three-pointer might be more important than ever before this year.

Rick Jackson has been held to 14 points an 11 rebounds total in his last three meetings with Pitt. You can imagine that Mr. Double-Double will want to at least numbers like that in this game alone, if not better.

A lot of folks are going to think differently about the Syracuse Orange Tuesday morning, for better or worse. That includes Syracuse fans. After last season, however, there's no reason for Orange fans to make any assumptions about their squad. We've seen this team win too many games they weren't supposed to.

Pittsburgh isn't far an away better than us, they've just had our number. Kinda like how the Pats had the Jets number for the last decade. Things change. Sometimes when they're least expected to do so. The Orange get to play the underdog for once tonight. Let's enjoy the role. Makes it all the more fun when you win.