Day & Time: Wednesday, January 6, 4:30 p.m. ET
Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.
Line: Syracuse -11.5
TV/Streaming: ACC Network, WatchESPN
Pittsburgh Blog: Cardiac Hill
Rivalry: 73-45, Syracuse
Current Streak: 7, Syracuse
First Meeting: The two teams met for the first time on January 29, 1914. Syracuse won 36-29, with Lew Castle leading all scorers with 20 points.
Last Meeting: Bourama Sidibe continued to find the holy water necessary to have good games against Pittsburgh. Back on February 26, 2020, he had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. As usual, Elijah Hughes was the star of the show with 25 points and nine boards as Syracuse coasted to a 72-49 win.
Head Coaches: Syracuse - Jim Boeheim (45th year, 1,071-400) | Pittsburgh - Jeff Capel III (third year, 35-38)
Coach Bio: Capel was a prolific starting guard for four seasons at Duke during his collegiate playing career. He finished with 1,601 points in his Blue Devils career. Capel started his coaching career as an assistant for his dad, Jeff Capel II, at Old Dominion for one year before moving to an assistant role with VCU the following season. After one year with the Rams, he was promoted to the program’s head coaching role. Capel led VCU to the NCAA tournament during his second season in 2004 and the Rams won 18 or more games in his four-year tenure. Capel then took the Oklahoma head coaching role and led the Sooners to two NCAA tournament appearances, including an Elite Eight run in 2009 with Blake Griffin. Capel left Oklahoma in 2011 and rejoined with Mike Krzyzewski at his alma mater in Duke, where he served as assistant on his staff until 2018. During his time at Duke, Capel stepped in for two games while Krzyzewski was unable to coach.
Capel was named Pittsburgh’s head coach in 2018 after the Panthers went winless in conference plays. Although the Panthers haven’t achieved an over-.500 season under Capel, he has increased Pitt’s win total each year.
Last Year: Pitt barely missed out on an above-.500 record by going 16-17 in its second season under Capel. It all fell apart for the Panthers during the second half of ACC play as Pittsburgh dropped its last seven regular season conference games of the 2019-20 campaign. The Panthers did pick up a win in the ACC tournament against Wake Forest but lost in the next round to NC State.
Last Game: Pittsburgh didn’t have Capel on the sidelines for its last game against Louisville on December 22 because he tested positive for COVID-19. The Panthers also didn’t have their top two scorers available in Justin Champagnie and Au’diese Toney. All of that added up to a 64-54 loss to Louisville.
“Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Pitt won’t have Champagine for the Syracuse game, so the scoring falls to Toney. He’s just behind Champagine with 16.2 points per game. Keep in mind that Pitt may not have Toney or others available as Capel said that he expects anywhere from two to four scholarship players to not be available due to contact tracing.
If Syracuse Wins: Let’s just hope it’s not like Bryant and a lack of practice leads to a much closer game.
If Syracuse Loses: Let’s just hope it’s not like Bryant and a lack of practice leads to an actual loss this time.
Fun Fact: The last time that Pittsburgh finished with a winning season was in 2015-16 — Jaime Dixon’s last year as the program’s head coach. Dixon finished his Panthers coaching career with five straight wins over Syracuse. Pitt’s just 1-9 vs. the Orange since his departure.