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Game Preview: Syracuse Orange-Pittsburgh Panthers


Syracuse and Pittsburgh will meet for the 103rd time with first place on the line in the Atlantic Coast Conference.  Tip-off is at Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Carrier Dome.

The Orange and the Panthers are the only remaining unbeatens  in ACC play, but one will suffer their first-ever ACC conference loss on Saturday.  The irony is it will come at the hands of an old Big East rival.

Syracuse holds a 63-39 advantage in the series, but Pitt owns a 14-5 record vs. Syracuse since 2001.  Pitt has won four of the last five and six of the last eight meetings at the Carrier Dome.

Pitt is coming off an 81-74 win at Georgia Tech on Tuesday.  The Panthers shot 65.4 percent from the floor and were led by Talib Zanna’s 22 points and nine rebounds and  James Robinson, who scored a career-high 16 points.  Pitt outrebounded Georgia Tech 38-18.

Syracuse had to rally to remain unbeaten at Chestnut Hill this past Monday in a 69-59 win over Boston College.

The main story line has been the two new ACC teams on top of the standings and looking like the best teams in the conference.  Pitt was unranked coming into the season, but Jamie Dixon’s team is off to a 16-1 start with their only loss coming at Madison Square Garden to Cincinnati 44-43.

The two teams only met once in the regular season, a Panther 65-55 win at Pittsburgh.  The Orange avenged that loss in the Big East quarterfinals with a 62-59 win in New York.

The Pick: Syracuse has really struggled with Pitt in the past and expect the same on Saturday.   The Orange will need their A game versus a very underrated and deep Panthers squad.  Lamar Patterson is in the race for ACC  Player of the Year and they also have two stellar freshman Michael Young and Jamel Artis.  Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis played with Young and Artis at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, NJ.  Plus Panther forward James Robinson played his high school ball with Jerami Grant at DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, MD.  Lots of pride on the line as well as the top of standings.  Expect a lot of intensity and expect the Orange to squeak out a close victory.

Where: Carrier Dome, Syracuse NY

When: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET

Television: ESPN

Tags: Basketball Syracuse Orange