The Syracuse Orange (9-6, 1-1) are coming off a big win over Miami, but it won’t mean much if they follow that up with a loss to the Pittsburgh Panthers (12-3, 1-0). Pitt’s also coming off their own upset, a 12-point defeat of no. 11 Virginia. The long-time foes SU and Pitt face off at noon ET on Saturday at the Carrier Dome. As you know, the Orange could really use a victory here.
So what’s going to happen tonight? The TNIAAM staff takes some guesses:
Pitt 78, Syracuse 73
While Jamie Dixon and his annoying play-calling while standing on the court have packed up and gone to TCU, the Panthers still have some strong offensive players. The Orange are going to have to find a way to stop Artis and Young, who just lit up Virginia the other night. This has been a very bad match-up for Syracuse recently and to break the streak, they will need to match the rebounding effort from the Miami game and be even better on offense. Tyler Roberson and Taurean Thompson will need to play smart, but aggressive to give Syracuse a chance at a possible momentum-building win.
Pitt 78, Syracuse 66
Pitt is simply too good offensively not to take advantage of Syracuse’s poor attempt at the 2-3 zone. Led by Michael Young and Jamel Artis, the Panthers average 82.3 points per game, have scored more than 90 points four times this season and are coming off an impressive win over No. 11 Virginia. Syracuse, on the other hand, is playing musical chairs with its starting lineup and is too inconsistent to be counted on, even while playing at home. Ask yourself this, what’s more likely: Syracuse’s 15-point win over Miami turns out to be the turning point that defines SU’s comeback season or it’s simply a positive blimp on an otherwise disappointing year? I’m taking the latter.
Pitt 85, Syracuse 71
Pittsburgh will have no problem scoring the ball against a 2-3 zone that still has its issues. The Panthers take and make a great deal of threes and I expect the same to be true in this matchup. Jeter, Young and Artis have all had monster games against the zone. They know what it takes to beat Syracuse and once again it will be Pitt on top of the Orange.
Pitt 82, Syracuse 68
Pittsburgh is a funny team this season. The Panthers have losses against SMU, Duquesne and then-No. 24 Notre Dame. But they’re also coming off of a victory over No. 12 Virginia. They’re hard to get a read on, but they still have James Artis, Michael Young and Sheldon Jeter — all zone killers. SU’s win over Miami was nice, but they still have a ton to prove. Even with Jamie Dixon gone, Pittsburgh knows how to beat the zone.
Pitt 81, Syracuse 70
My long-dormant reverse jinx worked last time, so why not give it another shot? Pitt’s a senior-heavy team with experience beating Syracuse. While the Orange appeared to figure some things out on the defensive end on Wednesday vs. Miami, they’re far from out of the woods there. Even if SU’s improved again, it’s easy to see how the Panthers’ three-point prowess could tear this zone up. Still, Tyler Lydon probably has another quality effort, even in the defeat.
What about you?