Maybe, just maybe things are starting to click for the Orange following a relatively comfortable home win over a strong Miami team. Syracuse got strong offensive performances from Andrew White III and Tyler Lydon and the 2-3 zone looked significantly better than it did in losses to St. John’s and Boston College. However, Saturday will require the zone to be at a completely different level if the Orange are to pull off a second consecutive ACC win.
I need hardly remind Orange fans of what has happened when the Orange square off against Pitt in recent years. The Orange have failed to beat the Panthers in their last seven meetings, including three times last season alone. Syracuse hasn’t knocked off Pitt since Tyler Ennis extended the Orange’s winning streak to 25 with a thirty-foot prayer at the buzzer at the Oakland Zoo. Syracuse will surely be the underdog yet again on Saturday.
Pitt is coming off of a huge win against a very good team. The Panthers knocked off Virginia 88-76 after scoring 18 points in one five minute overtime period. Pitt has been an offensive juggernaut this season, breaking 90 points four times. Pitt also boasts the top two scorers in the ACC. Michael Young paces the conference with 22.7 points per game in ACC play and he is trailed by Jamel Artis with 21.4 points per game.
Syracuse actually did a fantastic job limiting scoring from the guard position, holding Ja’Quan Newton to 8 points, against the Hurricanes on Tuesday but Artis and Young are both forwards. The Orange have struggled to find any sort of consistency at the bottom of the zone. DaJuan Coleman went from getting big minutes to practically zero and Tyler Roberson has done the reverse. Tyler Lydon has been shoehorned into the five again and the Orange will need him to play at his best to contain Pitt’s two-headed monster.
As well as the Orange defense played against Miami, it will likely have to be that much stronger to break the Pitt hex and give the Orange a huge home win.