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Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh: Payback's An Orange (What?)

No current Syracuse player has ever beaten Pitt. And I'm sure by now you've heard about how Pitt has owned Syracuse over the last ten years.

That's how most folks are going to think about the game coming in and that's how Dick Vitale will sell the game tonight. But common sense dictates that what happened in 2005 has no effect on what happens in 2011. These are two teams unto themselves. And if fact, these are two teams that don't resemble their usual Syracuse and Pitt selves.

This year, though, Syracuse and Pittsburgh are playing against their stereotypes. Syracuse, known for its high-flying transition offense, is scoring less than Pittsburgh – 75.5 points per game to Pitt’s 80.2.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh, noted for its hard-hat and lunch-bucket style and dedication to defense, is giving up 62.6 points per game while Syracuse is holding opponents to 59.3.

Pittsburgh ranks third in the Big East in field goal percentage, but Syracuse leads the conference in field goal percentage defense. Pittsburgh leads the Big East in 3-point shooting. Syracuse tops the conference in defending the three.

True, Pitt can rebound. Syracuse has...Rick Jackson. James Southerland has seen his rebounding impact grow in recent games and he'll be asked to keep that going tonight. In fact, the Orange are going to be asked to put together their best rebounding performance of the season. Fab,'re on notice.

Rick Jackson is trying to become only the second Big East player in the past 15 years to average 12 rebounds per game (DeJuan Blair is the only other one). The senior collects 11.8 right now, a one-man wrecking crew for the Orange. But can he single-handedly handle the Panthers? Pittsburgh ranks first in the country in rebounding margin, topping its opponents by 13 boards a game. But unlike Syracuse, the Panthers succeed by committee. Gary McGhee averages 7.3 rebounds per game, but six other guys are at 4.5 or better. Jackson is going to have to get some help if the Cuse is going to have a chance at an edge.

At the end of the day, Dion Waiters sums it up. "We know they're gonna throw a punch, we gotta throw a punch right back."

Lest we forget that this is also the game in which Scoop's chickens come home to roost (not literally though the idea of Scoop Jardine on a farm is one of the best ideas I've ever had). Scoop told ESPN The Magazine that Pitt plays dirty before the season started. Let's hope he's wrong. And/or that they can't read.

  • Cuse Countdown Previews: SU vs PITT...CitrusTVGary McGhee faces the media - October 20th, 2010">
  • Pitt F/C Gary McGhee faces the media(and refuses to smile)...Eric Forman
  • Orange Scouting Report: Pittsburgh vs. Syracuse...Mike Waters
  • Syracuse and Pittsburgh prepare for Top 5 showdown in Steel City...Mike Waters
  • Pitt Basketball: Will Panthers Continue Dominance Of Syracuse?...Cardiac Hill