Teams: Syracuse Orange (16-9, 8-4) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (13-11, 2-9)
Day & Time: Saturday, February 11, 1 p.m. ET
Venue: Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, Penn.
Line: N/A just yet
TV: ACC Network Extra
Radio: Syracuse IMG Network, WAER 88.3, Sirius 93/XM 193
Pitt Blog: Cardiac Hill
Rivalry: 66-44, Syracuse
Current Streak: 1, Syracuse (hooray!)
First Meeting: SU beat Pitt en route to an undefeated season in 1913-14. The 36-29 victory featured a 20-point effort by Lew Castle, who was crowned “King of Castle Court” in the historic parking lot rager of aught 14.
Last Meeting: The Orange jumped out to a 21-point lead in the Carrier Dome and never looked back. Things might have looked dicey for a few in the second half (because of course), but SU’s win was key to this team figuring out what it could turn into. That development’s not over, either, since we’re far from a lock to make the NCAAs just yet.
Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (41st Year, 1,001-351); Pitt: Kevin Stallings (1st Year, 13-11)
Head Coach Bio: Stallings played ball at Purdue, then jumped right into coaching. He was an assistant for the Boilermakers before jumping to Kansas after that. His first coaching gig was from 1993-99 at Illinois State. The Redbirds won 20 games four times in six years, including two tournament trips (and a win in 1998).
After that, he headed to Vandy, where he took a few years to start pulling something together before a pretty successful stretch from 2003-04 through 2011-12. The Commodores made the NCAA Tournament six times in that span, and then again in his final year, 2015-16. They never got further than the Sweet 16 (2004, 2007). They also never finished higher than second in the SEC.
After Jamie Dixon left Pitt (good riddance!), Stallings was brought in to continue the Panthers’ reasonable success. So far, he hasn’t done a great job of it.
Last Year: Pitt went 21-12, finishing middle of the pack in the ACC. They lost to Wisconsin as a 10-seed in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Last Game: The Panthers nabbed their second ACC win of the season, this time over Boston College. It was not pretty, but it did end an eight-game losing streak Pitt had been suffering since knocking off Virginia.
"Fear Me, I've Killed Hundreds of Timelords": Could go with a lot of different folks here, but Jamel Artis is the pick based on his overall scoring abilities, accuracy from three (over 40 percent) and history of putting up solid numbers against Syracuse. He scored 23 against SU back in January, hitting four threes. Artis scored a combined 49 points against the Orange in three games last season.
Just for the sake of consistency, however, if we’re looking for the out-of-nowhere performance from deep, Jonathan Milligan seems like your guy. He averages 8.3 minutes per game, but is 13-for-33 from beyond the arc this season. That’s almost every field goal he’s hit (15 in all).
If Syracuse Wins: Six straight wins, a winning streak against Pitt (rare!) and all the momentum in the world leading up to a huge matchup against Louisville next week.
If Syracuse Loses: I mean, we’d kind of be due, right? While there’s a lot to like for Syracuse in these wins, there’s some concern as well. The team hasn’t necessarily put together a consistent game lately, and if an opponent can stop Andrew White, the wheels could come off. It wouldn’t be a trend if it happens in just one game, though.
Fun Fact No. 1: Syracuse is 2-8 at the Pete, including two one-possession wins (2014 and 2004).
Fun Fact No. 2: After just one season with double digit losses (10 in 2007-08) for a decade, five of the last six have now hit double digits for Pitt. Did Dixon leave at the right time? His former Pitt team is cruising toward a finish near the bottom of the ACC. Meanwhile, the Horned Frogs are fighting it out for their first NCAA Tournament berth in nearly 20 years.