Posted on: January 1, 2010 9:35 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2010 9:39 pm

Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh

No. 5 Syracuse Orange (13-0, 1-0) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (11-2, 1-0)

The Associated Press said that "The Big East will test inexperienced Pitt early." This is starting to become a realization for the Pittsburgh Panthers. After starting the season with their best wins against Wichita State and at Duquesne, and after being beat by Texas and Indiana, the Panthers will only see tougher competitions against high caliber Big East teams. They defeated Depaul handily in their Big East opener, however in their next string of games I am sure Jamie Dixon would be happy with two wins through the five game stretch. Pitt heads to the carrier dome tomorrow night, then they will continue by traveling to Cincinatti, then at UCONN. After that they have Louisville and Georgetown at home. It is quite obvious that Pitt is down from their #1 seed in last years NCAA tournament, as they have only two players averaging double figures. However this team is capable of making a run through the Big East they may surprise some. Leading scorers Wanamaker and Gibbs will head into the Carrier Dome Saturday afternoon with mighty shoes to fill. Syracuse, on the other hand, has more than fulfilled expectation. After losing Flynn, Devendorf, and Harris to the NBA this team has only gotten better. The unsung hero has been Rick Jackson, as he and Arinze Onuaku have dominated the paint in critical games. Andy Rautins, the three point specialist, has expanded his game as a team leader, by enthralling the crowd with his crowd-pleasing assists. He also is among the nation's leaders in steals per game. Scoope Jardine and kris Joseph have stepped up to average 8 and 10 points respectively, which is a big boost to this teams depth. Let's not forget the two first year Orange players, and the team's PPG leaders, the Freshman Triche and the player on Gary Parrish's early All-American Team, Wesley Johnson. Enough said about the Orange. This is a key matchup for the Orange as they look to solidify their hierarchy in the Big East, and stay among the nation's elite. Pittsburgh has a very important chance to surprise many and make a run at the top 25 with a victory. How will Pitt respond to the pressure? Here are the projected line-ups for the game:

No. 5 Syracuse Orange (13-0, 1-0)        Pittsburgh Panthers (11-2,1-0)

G #1 Andy Rautins                                     G #12 Ashton Gibbs
F #00 Rick Jackson                                    G #22 Brad Wanamaker
C #21 Arinze Onuaku                                F  #5 Gilbert Brown
F #4 Wesley Johnson                                G #24 Jermaine Dixon
F #25 Brandon Triche                                F  #35 Nasir Robinson

My Prediction:
With Syracuse being such a dominant team so far there is no possible way I pick against them in this game. The duo of Gibbs and Wanamaker may give the Orange zone problems along with Gilbert Brown's return from academic probation and Jernaine Dixon's added presence. However, it is Pitt's size that will do them in, as their lineup is very small compared to the both large and quick zone of the Syracuse Orange. Without the DeJuan Blair of last year for Pitt, Onuaku and Jackson will tear up the backcourt for the Orange. The Orange's frontcourt should also be too quick for Pitt as well, however too many turnovers could help Pitt stay in the game. Pitt's key to the game has to be to slow the tempo of the Orange offense and stay aggresive on the boards, along with respectable 3-point shooting. If they can't do this, then the Orange will have a field day.

Final Score: Syracuse wins it, 83-67

Posted on: December 6, 2009 11:45 pm

Syracuse vs. Florida

No. 7 Syracuse Orange (8-0) vs. No. 17 Florida Gators (8-0)

This game features two teams that have shocked the college basketball nation thus far. You have Syracuse, a team picked 6th or 7th in the Big East in many preseason polls, and Florida, a team ranked outside the top 25 in preseason polls, playing in December as undefeated teams with impressive victories. The Orange can claim victories over No. 12 California and previous National Champion No. 6 North Carolina in the 2k Sports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The Gators can claim a victory over last year's runner up, the No. 2 Michigan State Spartans. What does that tell you about this game? These are two of the hottest teams in college basketball meeting head to head for a chance to remain unbeaten. Here are the projected lineups for the game-

No. 17 Florida Gators (8-0)        No. 7 Syracuse Orange (8-0)

G #1 Kenny Boynton                   G #1 Andy Rautins
G #11 Erving Walker                   F #00 Rick Jackson
C #32 Vernon Macklin                 C #21 Arinze Onuaku
F #25 Chandler Parsons             F #4 Wesley Johnson
F #23 Alex Tyus                            F #25 Brandon Triche

My Prediction:
With the way Syracuse has been playing thus far, it is hard to bet against them; even against a dynamic and explosive team like Florida. The quick and explosive backcourt of Rautins, Triche, and Johnson added on to a very physical frontcourt of Onuaku
and Jackson will be too much in the end for this Florida team to keep up with.

Final Score: Syracuse wins it, 87-72

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or