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Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh Q&A with Cardiac Hill

Cardiac Hill is back with Cardiac ‘Cuse.

Syracuse v Pittsburgh Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Well, it’s only been a few weeks since we last hosted Mike Wilson of Cardiac Hill for our Q&A, but the Syracuse Orange is set to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers for a second time.

This game will be at the Pete, so post your Tyler Ennis gifs in the comment section below.

TNIAAM: Hey, it’s been a whole two weeks. How are things?

Mike Wilson: Not too bad.

TNIAAM: So what happened in that rock fight of a first game between Syracuse and Pitt?

MW: Not much, given the scoreline — especially in the first half. But from Pitt’s point of view, Parker Stewart had a breakout game and established himself as the likely heir to Cameron Johnson’s role. Aside from that, it was a pretty tough watch, though.

The Panthers leaned heavily on their three-point shooting, which is what was expected. The only issue was that Stewart was the only one who seemed up to the task. The team’s two best shooters statistically, Khameron Davis and Marcus Carr, contributed zero and two points, respectively. Carr and Jared Wilson-Frame — the team’s two top scorers — went 0-for-10 and 1-11 from the field, respectively.

Stewart was also the only Pitt player to reach a double-digit point total. So it was a mess for the Panthers offensively to say the least.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 16 Pitt at Syracuse Photo by Orry Perce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

TNIAAM: Since then you’ve lost to Duke and NC State, any signs of life in either of those two games?

MW: There weren’t much of any in the Duke game. Stewart had another good outing, but it was mostly just a rehash of the beatdown Pitt was handed by the Blue Devils 10 days before. NC State was another story, though. Pitt broke an unfortunate streak in the first half of that game. After scoring fewer than 30 points in each of their previous eight halves of basketball, the Panthers put up 43 on the Wolfpack and took a 10-point lead into halftime. That all fell apart, of course, as Pitt slipped into another one of its scoring droughts, which have become par for the course under head coach Kevin Stallings.What’s especially troubling for Pitt heading into the Syracuse game, though, is the fact that Stewart, the team’s only player of note against the Orange last time around, was a non-factor against NC State. He’ll need to show up for Pitt to have a chance against Syracuse in the rematch.

TNIAAM: You have a really tough stretch of games after Syracuse, do you see any chance for a win on the schedule?

MW: Wake Forest, while statistically superior to this year’s Pitt team in a number of ways, looks beatable. The Deacons have some questionable losses on their record, including Liberty and Drake, and they have to play Pitt at the Petersen Events Center before playing Notre Dame three days later. If they get caught looking past Pitt and things start clicking for the Panthers like they did against NC State, the Deacons could be in trouble.

Boston College is another possibility because of its issues with consistency. Sure, the Eagles beat Duke, but they also barely got by Richmond and Wake Forest. Pitt could catch them on an off night and take advantage of that, but the chances of a win in that game are slimmer than they are against Wake Forest.

TNIAAM: Okay, so what can we expect in this game at the Pete? Another rock fight?

This game could end up with a higher score than the last, since both teams got their offenses going over the last few days. Pitt put up 68 points against NC State, which is the most the Panthers have scored in conference play this season. So there’s a chance Pitt could find itself in a rhythm come Saturday. And, of course, Syracuse just beat Boston College 81-63, so the Orange offense is looking better coming into the game as well.

But the Panthers struggled against the zone last time around, and they seem likely to do so again. Against NC State, Stewart and Carr went 0-for-4 and 0-for-6, respectively, from three-point range. The hot hand now is Davis, who just went 3-for-4 from beyond the arc. So Pitt may turn to him more on Saturday, as he leads the team in three-point shooting percentage.

With that said, you never know who’s going to step up for Pitt in any given game. Against Syracuse last time, it was Stewart. Against Duke, it was Stewart and Carr. Against NC State, it was Wilson-Frame and Shamiel Stevenson. It seems like every time a player steps up for Pitt, two more step down. The Panthers also struggle to put sustained pressure on team with their offense, resulting in lulls, like the one that derailed them against NC State.

Long story short, this has the makings of another rock fight, with the only discernible differences being the retro uniforms and maybe who’s shooting the threes for Pitt.

TNIAAM: Lastly, who wins, final score and why?Syracuse wins, 64-53.

MW: Only 11 days will have passed when Pitt takes the court against Syracuse again. Pitt just played Duke twice in 10 days, and the takeaway there, as expected, was that little changes in such a short time span.

Last time Pitt and Syracuse met, the Panthers seemed confounded by the zone, and with their three-point shooting looking suspect against NC State recently, there isn’t much reason to believe they’ll suddenly look competitive this weekend.

Aside from Pitt’s issues, though, Syracuse has gotten reliable production out of Tyus Battle, Frank Howard and Oshae Brissett throughout its conference schedule. No member of that trio has been held to fewer than 10 points against an ACC opponent this season, and Pitt seems unlikely to become the first to thwart them on Saturday.

Given Syracuse’s relative consistency on offense and Pitt’s current issues with three-point scoring, a loss seems inevitable for the Panthers. And the higher score is reflective of both offenses performing better since the last meeting.


Thanks, Mike!

Leave your thoughts in the comments below and we’ll get the gametheead posted shortly.