The Syracuse Orange enter the matchup with the Pittsburgh Panthers fresh off an upset loss against Villanova. Despite the loss, the Orange are ranked sixth in the nation with an overall record of 18-2, 6-1 in the Big East.
The 2013 season became tougher for Syracuse this week with the loss of starting forward DaJuan Coleman. As reported on Monday by the Sporting News, Coleman will miss four weeks with a knee injury. With the freshman out of the lineup, the Orange will have just seven scholarship players on the roster.
Fellow freshman Jerami Grant, who has already been filling the void off the bench left by the suspension of James Southerland, could be a replacement for Coleman. Grant has recently seen his minutes increase and is averaging 5.1 points and 2.9 rebounds a game.
The Orange are led on offense by senior guard Brandon Triche, who pours in 14.9 points, and junior forward C.J. Fair, who averages 13.4 points a game. Fair also leads the team in rebounding with 7.2 boards per contest.
Star point guard, Michael Carter-Williams, leads the nation with 8.9 assists per game and also contributes 12.6 points per game.
The Pittsburgh Panthers enter the Big East battle against the Orange with a record of 17-5, 5-4 Big East. The Panthers were defeated in their last game, 64-61 against the twelfth-ranked Louisville Cardinals.
Forward Talib Zanna leads Pittsburgh in scoring, averaging 11.2 per game. He is second on the team in rebounding with 5.6 boards a game. The 6'9" Zanna, paired with seven-foot center Steven Adams, make up a big frontcourt that could present problems for the Orange, especially with the absence of Coleman.
Guard Tray Woodall is an experienced senior who can score points and dish the rock. He averages 10.7 points and 5.7 assists.
This will be a tough assignment for Syracuse, especially on the road and given the fact that Pittsburgh is a good shooting team, making 49 percent from the field for the season and ranking 12th in that category.
Syracuse has lost its last three trips to the Petersen Events Center, dating back to 2006.
Syracuse Orange 18-2 (6-1) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers: 17-5 (5-4)
When: Saturday, February 2 12:00 PM ET
Where: Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, Pa
Projected Starting Lineups
F C.J. Fair
F Rakeem Christmas
F Jerami Grant
G Michael Carter-Williams
G Brandon Triche
F Lamar Patterson
F Talib Zanna
C Steven Adams
G Tray Woodall
G James Robinson
Final Score Prediction: Syracuse 73 Pittsburgh 64