Syracuse welcomes Pitt to the Carrier Dome on Saturday in a battle of the two remaining unbeaten teams in ACC play. Here is a quick look at the game:
ACC ELITE: When Syracuse and Pittsburgh meet on Saturday, there will be a different conference logo on the Carrier Dome court, but much of the same implications. The Orange and Panthers are both 4-0 in ACC play, and are the only undefeated teams left. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise, considering that Pitt and SU had been among Big East royalty before their defections to the ACC this year. The shocker really comes from the old guard in the ACC — Duke and North Carolina — who have both struggled. UNC has fallen out of the top 25 after starting conference play 0-3, while Duke is currently ranked No. 23 and was just one friendly bounce away from losing to Virginia. That has left Pitt and SU as the standard-bearers in the ACC. So, whoever wins on Saturday will have sole possession of first in their new conference.
SCOUTING THE PANTHERS: Aside from an ugly, ugly loss at Madison Square Garden against Cincinnati in the Jimmy V Classic in December (neither team broke 50 points!), Pitt has been perfect on the season. They are led by fifth-year senior Lamar Patterson, who has flourished in his final year with the Panthers. He leads the team in points (17.6) and assists (4.6), and for a 6-foot-5 guard, also is second on the team at 4.8 rebounds per game. Still, Pitt is reeling from the loss of sixth man Durand Johnson, who tore his ACL and meniscus in his right knee in Saturday’s win against Wake Forest. He was averaging 8.8 points on 33 percent shooting from downtown and 3.0 rebounds.
HISTORICALLY SPEAKING: The last time these two teams met was in the 2012-13 Big East tournament, with the Orange knocking off the Panthers 62-59. James Southerland scored 20 points while Carter-Williams added 11 points and seven assists. All time, Syracuse owns a 63-39 advantage in the series.
GAME INFORMATION: Saturday, Jan. 18 at 4 p.m. at the Carrier Dome. TV: ESPN.