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Things to watch for when Syracuse men’s basketball takes on Pitt

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Can the Orange get the series sweep?

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange (9-10, 3-5) men’s basketball team hopes to wipe away Saturday’s blowout loss when they head to face the Pittsburgh Panthers (7-12, 2-6) at the former Oakland Zoo. The Orange need to get things back on the right track so here’s what we’ll be looking for when these teams meet:

Kevin: Ball Handling

The loss of Symir Torrence means that Syracuse will be without their best ball-handler against pressure. Pitt didn’t really try and pick up full-court in the first meeting but you’d have to expect they try it tonight. I don’t think Jim Boeheim will play Paddy Casey unless there’s an emergency so Joe Girard is going to have play smart and under control. I’d expect the plan is to have the starting guards go the full 40 but Syracuse doesn’t want to hand the Panthers easy baskets.

Zeke: How Syracuse looks to play around Symir Torrence’s absence

Going forward, it’s hard to imagine who can replace the value Torrence gave the Orange off the bench if his absence extends beyond Tuesday’s game against Pittsburgh. Syracuse’s bench was already shallow to begin with before Torrence got hurt, with freshman Benny Williams and Frank Anselem totaling the second and third most amount of minutes off the bench. Outside of these three players, Syracuse has not distributed any significant minutes to the remaining players on their bench. With Syracuse’s sixth man out for at least a week, it will be interesting to see who steps up off the bench and makes an impact for the Orange during a pivotal point in their season.

Szuba: The 2-3 zone

In the first meeting, Syracuse held Pittsburgh to 61 points and 34 of those came in the first half. If you recall, the Orange stormed out with a big second half run as Pitt went extended time without scoring. Now, a lot of that has to do with the Panthers’ less than stellar offensive attack, but I’m curious if that will continue in this game given Torrence’s absence and what that means for the zone. Does Cole Swider get minutes up top, does Benny Williams get more run at forward and will we see Paddy Casey? Pitt has only scored in the 70s once in its last ten games. If Syracuse keeps Pittsburgh in the 60s they’ll win this game.

Christian: It seems that we have a common enemy

One of the biggest x-factors that decided the first Syracuse-Pitt meeting this season was foul trouble. Each team had three starters that had accumulated at least four fouls throughout the game. The lucky thing for Syracuse is that its players are used to playing with high fouls and have experience on staying on the floor late into games. Pitt rotates more, and it’s clear their bench, much like Syracuse, doesn’t have the same impact as the starters. Managing fouls could once again decide who has an advantage towards crunch time.