Syracuse students agree: We still hate Pittsburgh.
Syracuse and Pittsburgh atop the league standings. I've seen this before but somehow it feels different. Oh yeah, we switched leagues. But the cream rises to the top. Syracuse and Pitt are two solid programs and it is only moderately surprising that they are not leading their new league. The surprising part is not that these two teams are good, it's that the other teams in the ACC have been weaker than expected. But hey, we'll take the spotlight for now.
Syracuse enters the game unbeaten, while Pittsburgh lost an ugly game to Cincy earlier this season. Any team can have an off night so I'm honestly discounting that for Pitt, which is something most of the media isn't doing. However, Syracuse has more pieces that can take down Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh (maybe a plan by Jamie Dixon) gameplans to beat the zone in the opposite of most teams. He tries to pound the inside to open up three point shooting. And it has worked a lot for Pitt in the recent past. If Pittsburgh is able to score consistently in the paint they will have the upper hand against a Syracuse team which will then have to produce a big run to stay in the game and eventually win. Whoever wins the paint battle (including offensive rebounds) and the point guard battle will win the game. Tyler Ennis has been sensational, but so has James Robinson's assist to turnover ratio. If Syracuse can frustrate Robinson and cause turnovers, and transition buckets, Syracuse will be in a good position. Syracuse, so far, sooner or later, has found a way to create steals against good point guards and adapt to other team's gameplans. I think Syracuse will be able to do the same against Pittsburgh this year. While this game will at least be close for 30 minutes of play, Syracuse should be able to separate itself, especially with the solid play of CJ Fair late in the game, and get a win at home and remain atop the ACC. I'm taking the Orange by 11.
This game is available nationwide on ESPN / Watch ESPN at 4:00pm today. John will be in the Dome. I'll be in the home office. It should be a fun ACC battle with old school flair. Will fouls be called? Who knows?!?!