The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team is in this weird state where they haven’t looked terrible in any game this season, but have also rarely looked all that great (aside from the BC win). Years like that are how you wind up on the bubble — a place SU is very familiar with in recent years — and the only way we finish on the right side of that is by beating our competition there. This time around, that may include fellow ACC schools like the Pittsburgh Panthers, our next opponent.
Before this one tips off at noon ET on Saturday on ACC Network Extra, the TNIAAM staff weighs in on what might happen.
Syracuse 78, Pitt 64
The key for this game will be closing out strong. Syracuse started off the game on a roll and built a big lead early on, leading by as much as 18! However, in the final 20 minutes Syracuse shot 5-19 from behind the arc. Boeheim’s squad had to close out better. What will help them better in this matchup would be having Quincy Guerrier with 0 fouls to start, since last game he got into foul trouble. He definitely would’ve had an impact on that result. Last but but not least, defending will be better, the Orange got familiar with the Panthers in the first matchup. Now Jim Boeheim and the rest of the team have to worry about making it tough for Ithiel Horton, since last game he was the team’s leading scorer with 14 points.
Syracuse 65, Pitt 60
I’d like to think that Syracuse won’t let Pitt out-rebound them again. So that’s where I’m holding out hope. Much like UNC, Pitt isn’t a great shooting team, as the Panthers rank only above the Tar Heels in the ACC for field goal percentage. That means second-chance points will once again become a focal point, and Pitt won that battle 21-3 on January 6. You’d hope that Syracuse has learned from that game and the UNC game some tricks to help secure the ball on the defensive glass to limit the opportunities that the opposition gets. Slightly smarter shots and a few more defensive rebounds is all that Syracuse needed to win the last game, and I think the Orange should at least close this one out.
Syracuse 75, Pitt 68
The Orange haven’t put together a full game since they won at Boston College. Getting an opportunity for revenge against the Panthers should be all this team needs to be focused for forty minutes. Syracuse needs to avoid foul trouble and it would be wise to run the offense through Quincy Guerrier and Alan Griffin early in the game. Getting them engaged on that end gets them more active on defense and the Orange can use the defense to generate some offense.
Syracuse 71, Pitt 69 (nice)
Syracuse has its work cut out for it in an expected rock fight, taking on a tough defensive team in Jamie Dixon’s Pittsburgh Panthers. Oh, wait. What year is it? My fault. Yeah, Pittsburgh is still tough defensively as we found out a week and a half ago. Expect the Orange to struggle a bit shooting and on the boards. Still, Pittsburgh chucks up a bunch of bricks on offense so as long as Syracuse can mitigate the Panthers on the offensive glass just enough, SU should win in the return game. Let’s do it at all again for a third time at the Dome in a month from now. Cool?
Syracuse 70, Pit 66
This one’s going to be another slugfest between these teams, as Pitt’s defense has shown itself able to mitigate the Orange’s best weapon, three-point shooting (the Panthers are allowing just 27.3% of three-point tries to go in this year). That means SU will be forced to score inside and lean heavily on Quincy Guerrier and Marek Dolezaj. If they can do that with some proficiency, it’ll open up more open shots outside. If Syracuse is stifled in the paint, I don’t see how this matchup goes well for them. FWIW, I think ‘Cuse has learned at least something from these last three late collapses and does enough to pull off the win.
Now it’s your turn...
Who will win the game between Syracuse and Pitt?
This poll is closed
Syracuse, and welcome back to Positive Town!
Pitt, and it’s clear the Steelers died so the Panthers could live