Teams: Syracuse Orange (15-12, 8-8) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (15-13, 6-11)
Date & Time: Wednesday, February 26 at 7 p.m. ET
Location: Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Odds: ESPN’s matchup predictor says Syracuse has a 50.8 percent chance to beat Pitt. Better than 50 percent... on the road? Giddyup!
Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3
Rivalry: 72-45, Syracuse
Current Streak: 6, Syracuse
First Meeting: Syracuse and Pittsburgh first met way back in 1914. Syracuse ended up winning the game 36-29. Lewis Castle, a two-time All American for the Orange, scored 20 points in the game. 1914 was a fairly significant year for the Orange, who would go on to be crowned the “unofficial National Champions” after a 12-0 finish under coach Ed Dollard.
Last Meeting: Back on January 25, the Syracuse Orange and Pittsburgh Panthers clashed in the Dome. SU won the game 69-61 behind 21 points from Buddy Boeheim. The game was a significant turning point for the Orange, who learned how to win when Elijah Hughes had an off game shooting.
Hughes scored just 10 points on 4-13 from the field and 0-4 from three-point range. Marek Dolezaj and Quincy Guerrier both had great games, scoring 17 and 10 respectively and combining to pull down 15 rebounds. Justin Champagnie led the way for Pitt with 14 points and nine rebounds.
Head Coaches: Syracuse - Jim Boeheim (44th year; 1,062-390 at SU) | Pitt - Jeff Capel (2nd Year, 29-32 at Pittsburgh)
Coach Bio: Formerly an assistant coach for Mike Krzyzweski at Duke, Jeff Capel has a solid pedigree for coaching at Pitt, but so far has seen limited success. After a rebuild year in 2019, many were hoping to see an improvement this year, but it just hasn’t materialized yet. Pittsburgh has only five league wins in a down year for the ACC, with all of them coming against the bottom tier of the league. At least it’s a slight improvement over last year when they won just four league games.
Before joining the Panthers, Capel was an assistant for eight seasons at Duke, as well as a head coach for both Oklahoma and VCU. He took Oklahoma to an Elite Eight in 2009 and an overall record of 96-69. At VCU, he led them to the Colonial Conference Championship in 2004 and earned them a birth in the NCAA Tournament.
Last Year: The Panthers started hot, winning their first six games and entering conference play at 10-3. Things went downhill from there and they won just four more games, finishing in a tie for last place in the ACC with Notre Dame.
Last Game: A close loss to Virginia, 59-56. After storming back from a 14-point deficit in the second half, the Panthers couldn’t close out the game down the stretch. Kihei Clark had 17 points for Virginia, but six costly turnovers that kept Pitt in the game late. Trey McGowens missed a game-tying three-pointer with ten seconds to play and Virginia escaped with their fourth straight ACC victory.
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Justin Champagnie gave us fits in the first game, scoring 14 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Although he didn’t dominate the game start to finish, he had multiple great plays and his athleticism was apparent from start to finish.
I fully expect him to have a similar game against us on Wednesday. His size and tenacity will be tough to stop and he has a solid mid-range game that seems to be kryptonite to our defense at times. I fully expect him to stuff the stat sheet again.
If Syracuse Wins: Back above .500 in the ACC, but not much more than that. Still way on the outside looking in regarding the NCAA Tournament. The only real shot the Orange have at an at-large bid is winning out and winning a couple games in the ACC Tournament. Until that dream has fizzled, I won’t completely lose hope... but it’s a long shot.
If Syracuse Loses: Meh. Sadly, with so little left to play for in the regular season, the stakes are fairly low in this one. A loss, while disappointing, doesn’t mean much other than seeding in the ACC Tournament. I’d still rather get the win, because it’s Pitt. And Capel.
Fun Fact 1: The series is currently in the midst of one of eight different Syracuse winning streaks of five games or more. The Orange have won the last six, and a win on Wednesday would make it the second longest winning streak in series history.
(Not so) Fun Fact 2: Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse Orange faced off against Jeff Capel and the Oklahoma Sooners in 2009 in the NCAA Elite Eight. The game wasn’t much of a contest, mainly due to Blake Griffin’s utter dominance for the Sooners. Griffin had 30 points and 14 rebounds, including eight offensive rebounds, in an 84-71 win for Oklahoma.
Micro fun fact so I don’t end on a downer: Jim Boeheim is 4-1 all time against Jeff Capel.