Syracuse will try to move back to .500 when they travel down to Pittsburgh on Tuesday evening. Here’s a preview of the game.
- Teams: Syracuse Orange (9-10, 3-5 ACC) v. Pittsburgh Panthers (7-12, 2-6)
- Date: Tuesday, Jan. 25
- Game Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
- Venue: Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, PA
- Network: ACC Network
Fearless Prediction: Syracuse 63, Pitt 52
The Juice Online Season Record: 7-1 (ACC)
What has changed since the Orange drubbed the Panthers in the dome on January 9th? Pitt stomped Louisville at home before losing to Virginia and Clemson. Syracuse dropped a game to FSU, beat Clemson, then lost at Duke. The Panthers haven’t eclipsed 70 points in their last five games while Syracuse is having a tough time playing defense.
These two teams are struggling. Pitt has fallen from the top tier of college basketball to the basement of the ACC with no clear path out of there. Syracuse is hovering around .500 overall but fighting to be competitive in the ACC. Unfortunately, nothing seems to be going right for either club.
This is a ‘get right’ game for both teams. Syracuse is the heavy favorite according to ESPN’s BPI and any casual basketball fan could tell you that SU should run away with this one based on playing style. Pitt can’t score. In 19 games these seasons, the Panthers have scored 70+ points three times and they lost two of those games. Syracuse has a hard time stopping competent opponents on the defensive side of the floor but they have been able to keep pace offensively, even if it is not pretty.
I look for this game to play out the way the season has gone for both teams. The Panthers will get their second look at the 2-3 zone this season with plenty of film to figure out what went wrong in the first game. However, they won’t have the ability to capitalize on their offensive game plan. Pitt will match up well with the Orange and play tight defense, but the ability to make jump shots, especially those from 3-point land, will be the difference in this game. I look for SU to win ugly, but win indeed. The home crowd will be a non-factor after Pitt squandered the momentum they built up after the Louisville win by dropping two games in a row.
Ultimately, these 2 programs need to figure out what direction their program will be going. The ACC is prime for the taking with only Duke proving to be a formidable opponent each year. Syracuse has proven time and again that if they can make it to the Big Dance they will be a difficult matchup for whoever they play. But they need to make it out of conference play with a good enough record to be there in March.
I do not see a scenario where Pitt can be as competitive as Syracuse in conference play for the next two years. A change may be needed at the top for the Panthers but there is no guarantee that will lead to success. As befuddled as the Orange faithful are with the current state of the program, Pitt fans would trade their current state with them in a heartbeat.