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NCAA Basketball Preview for MLK Day: 'Cuse Visits the Zoo

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12:  Head coach Jamie Dixon of the Pittsburgh Panthers looks on during a college basketball game against the Georgetown Hoyas on January 12, 2011 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.  The Panthers won 72-57.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
Adrian FedkiwAnalyst IIIMay 31, 2016

Game of the Night—(3) Syracuse 18-0 (5-0) at (4) Pittsburgh 17-1 (5-0)

This will be a brawl.

Syracuse is looking to get off to their best start since the 1999-2000 season where they sizzled to a 19-0 start before losing to Seton Hall.  That squad finished 26-6, and lost to Michigan State in the Sweet Sixteen.

Pittsburgh comes off a win over Seton Hall.

SYRACUSE

The Orange overhauled their frontcourt, but like last year, they're tough and physical inside.  Arinze Onuaku and Wes Johnson have been replaced by Fab Melo and Kris Joseph.  They will be Kris Joseph tonight due to a head injury.  He's Syracuse's leading scorer.  He's Jim Boeheim's typical starting small forward; long and athletic. 

James Southerland will start for Joseph tonight.

Freshman center Fab Melo has a tough task on his hands trying to keep Pittsburgh off the glass.  It's his first true test against a big, physical player in the paint so far this season.

Rick Jackson is a pounder inside. He has 11 double-doubles so far this season.

I'm curious to see which of these two goes up against Pitt's Gary McGhee.

Scoope Jardine and Brandon Triche make up the backcourt. 

Jardine has solid vision, but is susceptible to ball pressure.  He's recorded 16 turnovers in his last three games.  The Panthers put defensive pressure on the opposing guards and force giveaways. 

Triche has improved his jump shot.

PITTSBURGH

It's going to come down to the offensive glass in my opinion.  Gary McGhee is such an underrated asset for Pittsburgh.  He's like an NFL nose-tackle who occupies a lot of space using his large frame.

Nasir Robinson is a small four who's scrappy and hits the boards.

Pittsburgh is second in the country in rebounding.

Brad Wannamaker, Ashton Gibbs and Gilbert Brown provide the scoring, and guys like McGhee give these three great offensive threats second possessions by getting the offensive rebound.

All three shoot the three ball over 40-percent.

Wannamaker protects the ball, Gibbs has a nice mid-range game and Brown is a superb athlete.

PREDICTION: Pitt-66-56

Pitt's at home and the Orange don't have Kris Joseph.

The Panthers backcourt is better, and without Joseph, their frontcourt is better.

THE BEST OF THE REST

So some games have already been played. Kemba Walker's floater with 2.5 left dispatched Nova. St. John's won again.  This time upsetting a suddenly struggling Notre Dame team at home.

  • B12- (2) Kansas 17-0 (2-0) at Baylor 12-4 (2-1)

Baylor's at home, and they need this win.  After starting the season in the top ten, the Bears have dropped out of the polls.  I think Baylor's LaceDarius Dunn has a ball game.

Bay- 81-79

  • B12- (24) Kansas State 13-6 (1-2) at (14) Missouri 15-3 (1-2)

We're really starting to see what Denis Clemente meant to the Wildcats last season.

Mizz- 78-66

  • MAAC- Fairfield 12-4 (5-1) at Rider 12-6 (4-2)

Huge game in terms of the pecking order of the conference.

Rid- 69-67

  • South- Charleston 12-5 (5-0) at Chattanooga 10-8 (6-0)

Watch this game just to see Charleston's Andrew Goudelock play, he's special.

Charl- 71-67

 

 

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