Today, the Syracuse Orange men's basketball team will play the Pittsburgh Panthers Saturday for the second and final time of the 2014-15 season. This will be the final leg of a three-game home stand for the Orange.
The former long-time Big East Conference, now Atlantic Coast Conference foes, are looking to solidify their regular-season resumes for two different reasons.
The Orange (17-9, 8-5 ACC) want to help senior Rakeem Christmas finish his outstanding collegiate career on a high note, as the team will not play in the postseason due to a self-imposed ban. Meanwhile, Pitt (17-10, 6-7) is trying to earn its way into the NCAA Tournament and can't afford many more blemishes on its record.
Syracuse is coming off its first victory over a ranked opponent this season, as it upset the No. 12-ranked Louisville Cardinals on Wednesday, 69-59. Christmas netted a game-high 29 points and snagged eight rebounds, while junior swingman Michael Gbinije continued to play well, netting 18 points on five of six shooting. The Duke transfer also dished out six assists and snagged five rebounds in 40 minutes of action.
Currently, Gbinje leads all of the ACC in 3-point shooting percentage in league play at 50.8%. He scored a career-high 27 points in a 80-72 loss to the No. 4-ranked Duke Blue Devils last Saturday.
Meanwhile, junior sharpshooter Trevor Cooney is in a bit of a funk, as scored just three points against Louisville and he's shooting just 21.7% from behind the 3-point arc in his last five games. Luckily, the production of Gbinije, sophomore forward Tyler Roberson–9.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in his last five games–and freshman point guard Kaleb Joseph, who has averaged 29.5 minutes per game in the last four games, has seen an uptick.
Also during the span, the Panthers defeated the Orange, 83-77, at the Petersen Events Center on Feb. 7. Jamel Artis tallied a double-double (20 points and 10 rebounds) as did Michael Young (13 points and 11 rebounds).
Pitt is coming off a loss to the No. 2-ranked Virginia Cavaliers, who earned a 61-49 home victory.
|Record||17-9, 8-5||17-10, 6-7|
Syracuse owns a 65-39 advantage in the all-time series with Pitt and the Orange have won four of the last six games.
Game Time: Noon ET
Television: ACCN (NBC 3 in Syracuse)–Tim Brant (play-by-play), Dan Bonner (color).
Radio: Syracuse IMG Radio Network
RPI Rankings: Syracuse – 65; Pitt – 49.
What A Win Means For Syracuse: Any day the Orange can beat Pitt is a good day. Plus, who wants to see Rakeem Christmas lose twice in one year against our former Big East rivals?
Meaningless Prediction: Syracuse 72, Pitt 68
It doesn't matter, so I am picking Syracuse!
Next Up for SU:
|at Notre Dame||Tues., 2/24||8 p.m.||ESPN|
|at Duke||Sat., 2/28||7 p.m.||ESPN|
|Virginia||Mon., 3/2||7 p.m.||ESPN|
|at N.C. State||Sat., 3/7||Noon||CBS|