The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team has restored some faith during the recent four-game winning streak, even if they aren’t necessarily sniffing an NCAA Tournament bid just yet. One thing that can help that quest? Beating the Pittsburgh Panthers at the Dome on Saturday.
Syracuse and Pitt haven’t faced off since March in the ACC Tournament — a 73-59 win for the Orange. SU’s won five in a row in the series, which is a nice departure from the terrors this matchup presented under former coach Jamie Dixon. This year’s Pitt team is 13-6 overall, and 4-4 in conference play, though they’ve beaten both Florida State and (yes, this is a quality win) Rutgers.
Before the game tips off on Saturday afternoon at noon ET — televised on ACC Network — we asked the TNIAAM staff to predict what this one could look like.
Syracuse 73, Pitt 64
Pittsburgh is a bad offensive team. They rank 332nd in the country in points per game. I fully expect the Syracuse 2-3 zone to shut down the Panthers for large swaths of this game. If the Orange can focus on containing Pitt’s bevvy of guards (Trey McGowens, Xavier Johnson, Justin Champagnie, Ryan Murphy), I see no reason that the Orange can’t pull away and coast to a relatively easy win. Then again, it’s Pitt, and no game seems to be an easy win against them, even without coach Jamie Dixon at the helm. Still, I think the offensive firepower of Elijah Hughes, Buddy Boeheim, Joe Girard, and Marek Dolezaj, along with the emergence of Bourama Sidibe and Quency Guerrier will be too much for the Panthers to handle, and the Orange will pick up a fifth straight conference win.
Syracuse 80, Pitt 62
Syracuse’s defense should have an easier time against a guard-heavy Pitt team that doesn’t have a strong inside presence, rebound well, or shoot efficiently from three-point range (30.5 percent on the season). Additionally, the few Panthers that have experience facing SU’s 2-3 zone have had little collective success. I think this game plays out similarly to last week’s contest against Boston College, except that Pitt won’t start to figure things out on offense in the second half. SU will dominate on both ends of the court in this noontime game and pick up its fifth-straight win in blowout fashion.
Syracuse 78, Pitt 75
The Panthers play a small line-up so while they shouldn’t pose problems on the glass for the Orange the quick line-up might disrupt the half-court offense. I expect to see a lot more of the isolation plays for Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim at the top of the key as they should be able to shoot over their defenders. This is a game where Bourama Sidibe can find opportunities to score at the rim. It’ll be important for the Orange to keep this momentum rolling before they head on the road to Clemson.
Syracuse 69, Pittsburgh 61
Pittsburgh chucks up a bunch of bricks from beyond the arc at a rate that rivals Virginia. But what the Panthers lack in three-point shooting, it compensates with tough defense. Expect Jeff Capel to try to control the game by dictating a slow tempo, but the Syracuse offense is humming along at an impressive clip. The Orange perimeter attack does a satisfactory job and the 2-3 zone holds up against a slow Pittsburgh attack. Syracuse by three possessions.
Syracuse 68, Pitt 63
Pitt’s one of the slowest teams in the country, but the offense is efficient enough (top-100 via KenPom) to make up for it to some extent. Though the scoring attack is guard-heavy, it’s also balanced with four players averaging double-digit points this year. Teams like this have been problematic at times for Syracuse, and the only saving grace may be the fact that they’re not a great rebounding team. I’m taking the Orange, despite being incredibly nervous about doing so. Enough shots fall from outside to get the job done.
Now it’s your turn...
Who wins the game between Syracuse and Pitt?
This poll is closed
Syracuse, and this thing keeps picking up speed!
Pitt, and we’re back to taking on water