Date and Time: Saturday, January 18, 2014
Game Line: Syracuse -5 (from JustBet)
Saturday College Basketball Picks (Pitt @ Syracuse) Analysis: Two former Big East foes meet for the first time in ACC play as the Pitt Panthers take on the Syracuse Orange on Saturday from the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY.

The Orange are currently undefeated this season, with a 17-0 record and 4-0 record in conference play. Last weekend they disposed of a high profile opponent in North Carolina 57-45, and then took care of business with a 10 point win at Boston College. Granted, North Carolina is on a down year, but they are still North Carolina, a program that’s been a mainstay in the ACC for quite a while. They are 2-0 SU and ATS vs ranked opponents this year with wins at home over Baylor and Villanova. The Orange are averaging 72.8 ppg and shooting 45.9% from the field this year. They are also ranked 6th in the country with a +5.9 turnover margin.

The Pitt Panthers currently come in with only one blemish on their record at 16-1 and are also 4-0 in conference play. Their only loss came back in mid-December, a narrow 44-43 loss against #19 Cincinnati. That was a big game for Cincinnati, as they were playing an old conference rival that had left. Granted, Cincinnati is somewhat in a new conference (AAC, aka the old Big East), but they were up for that game as Pitt were the ones that left for the ACC. That loss was a wakeup call for the Panthers, as they have won 6 straight since, winning by an average margin of 13.8 points per game. Pitt is averaging 77 ppg, and shooting 49% from the field on the year.

I’m taking the points in this one. These two teams met last year in the Big East quarterfinals with the Orange outlasting the Panthers 62-59. There’s no look ahead spot for either team, but one might think that Pitt might want a little revenge and will be highly motivated. Syracuse has been impressive, no question, but don’t think Pitt won’t want to remind Syracuse that even though they are in a new conference, the Panthers are as well. There is also one key thing to point out. Syracuse has had success in the conference thus far due to their 2-3 zone defense. A lot of the teams in the ACC aren’t familiar with it. You may see it on tape and think you can figure it out, but when you’re on the court it’s a totally different scenario. Well, Pitt is very familiar with it, being in the Big East for many years and knows how to attack it. Pitt is also a very good defensive team, allowing opponents to shoot only 39% from the field this year. They are also good on the glass, out-rebounding opponents by an average of 9 per game. Syracuse is decent defensively, allowing opponents to shoot 41& from the field, and out-rebounding the opposition by 5.6 rebounds per game. Syracuse is undefeated, and Pitt hasn’t had that signature win this year. I think Pitt can limit Syracuse offensively on Saturday, and with the way they’ve been rebounding the ball, I look for them to pick up the win in the Carrier Dome.

The Pick: Pitt +5

Prediction: Pitt 64 Syracuse 61


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