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Syracuse - Pittsburgh Preview

Syracuse students agree: Pitt is standing in SU's way again.
#3 Syracuse travels from the Salt City to the Steel City to take on #3/4 Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers in the Pete. This game is always tough for the Orange as they are 7-1 in their last eight meetings and 1-6 all time in the Pete. History is not on their side in this one. The Oakland Zoo will be in full force tonight as this is also Pitt's biggest game to date as well. Now that Syracuse is not in the "tri-state area" if Syracuse wins they will receive instant national credibility, while if they lose surely their "weak non-conference scheduling" will be to blame. Pitt's leading scorer is still Ashton Gibbs, who is putting up 16.3ppg. He is very good and a good shooter hitting 44.6% from behind the arc. The question is if Syracuse learned anything from Cincinnati about getting on shooters if they start to get hot. Jim Boeheim is a master of halftime adjustments so a hot shooter should not be too troubling. But allowing a team to not only keep making shots outside, but then giving up the paint to cover them is deadly for Syracuse's zone defense. Pittsburgh's leading rebounder is Gary McGhee with 7.4rpg. Pittsburgh has always been known as a defensive, physical team, but their rebounding statistics are not evident of that. Syracuse could take advantage of the rebounding and get second and third opportunities, while taking away possessions for Pittsburgh. Kris Joseph, Syracuse's leading scorer, did not make the trip to Pittsburgh and James Southerland will take his place. Southerland is shooting very well as of late, especially from behind the arc. While this would be instant death to most team's chances, Syracuse does not rely on one leading scorer night in and night out. Rick Jackson or Scoop Jardine have lead in scoring for several games this season so while missing some of his offense will be evident, it is not the end of Syracuse in this game. If this game were played in the Carrier Dome I would probably pick Syracuse, but because it is in Pittsburgh I think I have to give the Panthers the nod. But this game will be close and I wouldn't be surprised if Syracuse pulls out a tight one either. But I will give this prediction to Pittsburgh by six.

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