Syracuse travels to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers on Saturday, Jan. 16 at 12 p.m. (TV: ACC Network). Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Sam Vescovi and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.
Season Record: 0-1
In Syracuse’s first matchup with Pitt on Jan. 6, the Panthers took a backseat for the majority of the game, trailing by double digits multiple times, and well into the second half.
But they never gave up and were fortunate to catch Syracuse on an off shooting night. It’s a signature win for the Panthers because they never gave up and managed to win a game where they only lead for 8 seconds.
It’s unlikely they win under the same circumstances in the future, but this team showed the fight necessary to be competitive in the ACC when they were down their top player and three others due to contact tracing.
Syracuse bounces back from the loss against UNC, finds the rebounding they didn’t have in the last game, and beats Pitt, 79-69.
Season Record 4-1
One stat that I’ve always been fascinated with is KenPom’s “luck” category. It measures the team’s actual winning percentage versus what would expect from it’s game-by-game efficiencies.
Syracuse is ranked 40th in KenPom’s overall rankings, but just 235th in the country in that luck category. Meanwhile, Pitt, ranked 76th overall, is 72nd in the country in “luck.”
What does that all mean? Well, Syracuse and Pitt last matched up two weeks ago, with the Panthers coming back from down 18 points to taking a lead in the final five seconds of the game for a 63-60 win. Statistically speaking, that was unlikely, and given the efficiencies of both teams, it would seem like reversion to the mean is in order.
Put in a simpler way: Syracuse is due for one.
The Orange lost the rebounding battle against Pitt in the first matchup by 16, yet still managed to lead for most of the game despite shooting 36.7 percent from the field. That’s a nearly 8 percent below what SU averages for the season (44.5).
I expect the Orange to shoot closer to their average on Saturday, and also for the rebounding disparity to still favor Pitt, but more in line with the -6 SU surrendered to Georgetown in a five point win. Speaking of five points, that’s my overall predicted margin, with Syracuse getting its revenge on the Panthers, 61-56.