Day & Time: Wednesday, March 13, at 9:15 p.m. ET (approximately)
Location: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, N.C.
Line: Orange -7
Radio: Syracuse IMG Network, WAER 88.3, SiriusXM: 81 (Syracuse)
Pitt blog: Cardiac Hill
Rivalry: 70-45, Syracuse
Current Streak: 4, Orange
First Meeting: You know how everyone associates Chris Webber with that timeout he called while playing for Michigan against North Carolina in the national title game all those years ago? Well, it was Pittsburgh which actually started that whole brain-fart fad.
As OrangeHoops tells it, Pitt led Syracuse 28-27 with 16 seconds left in a 1914 contest. However, Pitt received a technical for calling an extra time out. The Orange would eventually tie the game at 28 to force OT, then win 36-29 in overtime. Lew Castle scored 20 points for SU.
Last Game: Senior Frank Howard, AKA Mr. You Hate Me, came through in the clutch. The much maligned guard tallied 15 points total, 10 of which came during a key 16-5 run in the second half as visiting Syracuse pulled away for a key road win, 65-56.
Sophomore Oshae Brissett added 18 points on 6 of 9 shooting from the field, 6 of 8 from the free-throw line. Paschal Chukwu further pitched in with 10 points and eight boards of his own in the victory.
The Panthers, meanwhile, were in the middle of a complete free fall. Starting with a defeat inside the Carrier Dome in January, Jeff Caple’s crew lost 13-straight games. It was a streak that was snapped when Pitt closed out the regular season by taking down Notre Dame.
Head Coaches: Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (43rd year, 1,046-378; Pitt: Jeff Capel III (1st year, 14-18)
Coach Bio: Jeff Capel III has been a fixture of the college landscape for years. Capel first burst on to the scene as a key player for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke from 1993 through 1997. In his time playing for the Blue Devils, Capel racked up over 1,600 points, 430 assists and finished in the school’s top ten for minutes played, three-point makes, three-point percentage, field goals made and assists.
After moving on from playing, Capel joined the coaching ranks as an assistant at Old Dominion (bah) in 2000, and moving to VCU the following season. Capel took over the Rams as head coach in 2002 and had moderate success. His VCU team nearly upset Wake Forest in the NCAA Tournament in ‘04.
From there, Capel moved on to Oklahoma which saw him rise to national prominence and fall from grace with lightning quickness. The kid born and raised in North Carolina suddenly was getting big-time recruits to sign on to play in Norman, Oklahoma. The biggest? Blake Griffin, who helped Capel and the Sooners get to the Elite Eight after beating Syracuse in the Sweet 16 back in 2009.
Ultimately, Capel flamed out at OU, having five players leave his program before the ‘10-’11 season. His time there ended after the the program was found to have violated two NCAA rules—Capel was not tied to the issues, but with two straight losing seasons, he was shown the door.
That led to his going back to Duke to assist Coach K. In fact, after some time, it looked as though Capel could be Mike Hopkins to Coach K’s legacy. But Capel surprised a lot of people in the college basketball world by agreeing to take over Pitt this past offseason.
Last Year: This is what I wrote last month before Syracuse’s home game with the Panthers, and I think it still holds true:
Year two of the Kevin Stallings experience at Pittsburgh somehow went worse than the first. Pitt absolutely bottomed out, going 8-24 overall and 0-18 in the ACC. Yuck.
The craziest stat to me is that the Panthers broke 70 points in an ACC game just one time last year—that was a 75-88 loss at Florida State.
You would like another sad stat from that Pitt-iful (see what I did there!) team?
Pitt freshman Trey McGowens has already attempted more free throws (113) than any player on the Panthers' roster during all of last season. Most attempted was 112.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) January 16, 2019
Last season was a train crashing into a garbage fire full of tires and grease for the Panthers.
Last Game: Pittsburgh surprised Boston College in the opener of the ACC Tourney, 80-70 Tuesday. Trey McGowens led the way with 26 points and Xavier Johnson added in 23 for the Panthers.
Pitt used a 14-2 run midway through the first half to secure a 36-21 lead at the break. That coupled with a horrific shooting night for the Eagles (35.6 percent from the field and just 24 percent from deep) helped push the Panthers on to Wednesday night.
“Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Freshman Xavier Johnson still leads Pitt in scoring at just over 15 points per game. The guard also is tops for the Panthers in assists (4.5 per) and shoots close to 76 percent from the free-throw line. Johnson struggled against the Orange in February, scoring 14 points on just 2 of 11 shooting from the field (9 of 12 on free throws), but he had a monster game in Charlotte.
Trey McGowens went off last night against Boston College. Another freshman, McGowens scored 26 points in the victory over the Eagles. He hit both of his three-point attempts and drilled 10 of his 12 free-throw attempts.
If Syracuse Wins: It gives Syracuse 20 wins total for the season and probably all but wraps up an NCAA Tournament bid. In reality, beating a bad Pittsburgh team for the third time this season doesn’t really do much to move the needle, but this one is simply about avoiding disaster—don’t slip on the banana peel right now.
If Syracuse Loses: Hello, darkness, my old friend. A defeat to the lowly Panthers might not regulate the Orange to the NIT, but we’re all sure as hell going to have to sweat it out until CBS finally gets to the whole field on Sunday evening.
Remember, Pittsburgh is being coached by Jeff Capel, who is in his first year with the Panthers. Furthermore, this squad is young and has nothing to lose in playing for its season. In other words, Pitt is going to let it all hang out in hopes of moving past Syracuse and living to play another day.
Fun Fact No. 1: Pittsburgh has never won the National Championship, but it did take home the “First Commonwealth Colonial Athletic Association Classic,” a per-conference tourney in 2007.
Fun Fact No. 2: In over 100 years of playing the sport, Pittsburgh has had two Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductees. The short list includes Henry Clifford Carlson, who was coach of the Panthers from 1922 through 1953, and Charley Hyatt, a three-time All-American in the late ‘20s.