January 18, 2014 at 3:31 AM #53065
Qbin Missile CrisisKeymaster
The Pittsburgh Panthers and Syracuse Orange have been two of the most successful teams this season, and chances are, they’ll provide fans with one of the most entertaining matchups of the entire weekend. Entering the contest, the Panthers rank 22nd and boast a 16-1 record. Syracuse is No. 2 in the country, and has gone undefeated through 17 contests. Neither team has lost in conference play this season, but only one can walk away victorious come Saturday.
No. 22 Pittsburgh (16-1, 4-0 ACC) at No. 2 Syracuse (17-0, 4-0 ACC)
Saturday, Jan. 18 4:00 p.m. ET at Carrier Dome
Despite Pittsburgh’s impressive start, their strength of schedule is nothing to brag about. Their strength of schedule is ranked just 104th in all of college basketball, as they’ve yet to play a ranked opponent through their 17 games.
Looking past the strength of schedule, this Pitt team has impressed with its efficiency. Not only is the team scoring 77.3 points per game—good enough for 72nd in the nation—it is shooting the ball at 48.8 percent. That number is good enough for 19th in the nation, and complements the team’s assists-per-game standing (10th) nicely.
The goal here will be to slow down C.J. Fair when Syracuse has the ball. He’s the Orange’s leading scorer this year, putting the ball in the basket to the tune of 17.1 points per outing.
Following the recent loss from the Wisconsin Badgers, Syracuse is one of just three teams to remain undefeated this season. It’s been nearly 40 years since the last undefeated season, and while the odds are against the Orange in that sense, they’re well on their way to improving their mark against Pittsburgh.
Syracuse will be the favorite in this one for a reason. C.J. Fair is the team’s leading scorer, but he’s not the only potential first-round pick. There are also two lottery candidates in Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant.
Syracuse has played one ranked opponent this season. They took down the No. 18 Baylor Bears on Nov. 27, doing it to the tune of 74-67.
Pitt will keep this game close, but the truth is that Syracuse is too talented and too deep to fall at home. The Panthers have yet to face a team of this caliber this season, and while you could likely say the same about the Orange, the depth of this roster should prove to be too much for Pittsburgh to handle.
Expect an entertaining showdown, but don’t be shocked if the Orange continue their undefeated season when the clock strikes zero.
Prediction: Syracuse 78 – Pittsburgh 73
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