ACC Tournament preview: No. 8 Pittsburgh vs. No. 9 Syracuse

Previewing Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh:

Game 32: No. 9 Syracuse (19-12, 9-9) vs. No. 8 Pittsburgh (20-10, 9-9) 

All-time series: Syracuse leads 65-43

Date: Wednesday, March 9

Time: 12:00 p.m. ET

Location: Verizon Center (Washington, D.C.)

TV: ESPN/ACC Network

Syracuse enters Wednesday's matchup with Pittsburgh in dire need of a victory. As of right now, most bracketologists have the Orange on the bubble, in a play-in game or slightly in the tournament field. A win on Wednesday would all but secure SU a spot. The matchup with Pittsburgh has been viewed as an NCAA Tournament elimination game by some, which is a valid way of approaching the game.

The Panthers defeated the Orange twice during the regular season, both at the Petersen Events Center and the Carrier Dome. Mike Hopkins coached Syracuse in the first matchup, which was a 72-61 loss on December 30. Jim Boeheim was on the sidelines for Pitt's most recent victory over the Orange, 66-52, on February 20. In both matchups, the Orange were crushed on the glass. However, Syracuse had a chance to win both games, but Jamie Dixon's squad somehow always seems to find a way to beat the Orange. He's 14-6 overall against Syracuse in his career, 7-2 at the Carrier Dome.

Three things to watch:

1. Rebounding: In their last game, Pittsburgh outrebounded Syracuse, 43-23, en route to a 14-point victory. Tyler Roberson recorded four rebounds and was held scoreless in the loss. The Panthers finished the game with 14 offensive rebounds, while the Orange had a total of 17 defensive rebounds in the entire game. It doesn't matter who you ask, rebounding will be a big factor in Wednesday's ACC Tournament game.

2. Which Roberson/Cooney will show up? Syracuse fans have had a chance to see Tyler Roberson and Trevor Cooney at both their best and worst this season. Lately, both players have been struggling, which will be something to watch on Wednesday. Will the Orange get a Tyler Roberson who corals double digit rebounds and is a factor on the offensive glass? Will Trevor Cooney hit shots and extend Pittsburgh's defense well beyond the 3-point arc? 

3. Artis/Young/Robinson: Jamel ArtisMichael Young and James Robinson will give Syracuse all they can handle tomorrow afternoon. All three can score, shoot from deep, rebound, assist and play great defense, and have proved it time and time again against the Orange. Artis went for 21 and 18 points in his last two meetings with the Orange. If Syracuse wants any chance to advance in the ACC Tournament, they'll need to contain these three Pittsburgh starters as best they can.


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