The Syracuse Orange host the Pittsburgh Panthers in the backend of a their 2014-2015 home-and-home series. The Panthers took the first one, 83-77. Can the Orange return the favor? Let's see what everyone thinks...
Syracuse 68 - Pitt 64
A win on Saturday is crucial if Syracuse wants to have a chance at a 20-win season. and I think that mark is something this team is determined to reach. Foul trouble hampered Syracuse in the 2nd half in the first match-up, so SU will need to avoid a repeat in order to pull out the victory. Kaleb Joseph has made some big plays in the last two SU wins and I think he'll once again contribute down the stretch for the Orange.
Syracuse 70 - Pitt 68
For once, Syracuse actually made almost 80% of their free throws (21/27, or 78%) against Louisville this past Wednesday. Michael Gbinije keeps proving that he's an essential part of this Orange lineup, and I think he'll continue his upward swing against Pitt. In their last meeting two weeks ago, Syracuse was winning at halftime, and couldn't finish, losing 83-77 in the end. It was the same story against Duke, as far as not being able to finish strong on defense. Some points from the bench would be nice, too, I say that Rakeem Christmas and his compatriots get some key blocks and steals down the stretch to win this one in a nail-biter.
Syracuse 70 - Pitt 60
Here's all you really need to know about this one: Pitt just isn't the same team away from Petersen Events Center, where Syracuse suffered an 83-77 defeat two weeks ago. The Panthers are just 1-7 on the road this season, with their sole win coming in overtime against Boston College -- the ACC's worst team. Behind Rakeem Christmas and Michael Gbinije, who scored 23 points apiece in these teams' first meeting, expect the Orange to win rather comfortably Saturday in their penultimate home game of the 2014-15 season.
Syracuse 66 - Pitt 64
Part of this feels like a trap. A non-banned Syracuse team would follow up that nice upset over Louisville with a loss. But this one? They're basically playing for their own personal championship right now. With so few home dates left, the Orange should be up for this one -- despite the noon start. Christmas is dominant, while Gbinije continues his very strong play of late. Pitt keeps it close the whole way, but free throws (!!!) make the difference in the end for another SU victory.
Syracuse 68 - Pitt 67
The trap that we seem to fall into is we see Syracuse win a game and then immediately feel like things are starting to come together and assume they'll beat the next lesser opponent. The Louisville win was great but I'm not sure we'll see the same thing out of this team every night. That said, with Christmas and Gbinije on course, that's something to hang your hat on. If Trevor Cooney gets it going, all the better. If not, Tyler Roberson is playing himself into a starter role next season. The Orange nip the Panthers thanks to the home court advantage, but it'll come down to the final moments as usual.
Now it's your turn...