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Pitt vs. Syracuse: Part Deux

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt takes on Syracuse tonight at the Pete and if you're like most fans, you've got a hard time feeling optimistic about this one.

Last we saw the Panthers, they were limping past Virginia Tech on their way to an overtime win over one of the worst teams in the ACC. The thing that's being forgotten a little bit, though, is just how underwhelming the team has been for the past couple of weeks.

The biggest problem I find in coming up with scenarios of how Pitt wins this game is how the team has fared lately. The Virginia Tech game was really just the last in a long line of struggles. Before that, there was the close call at Miami. Before that, there was an ugly loss to Virginia at home. Before that was a blowout loss to Duke - also at home.

Pitt hasn't had a bad game, they've had a bad couple of weeks.

I won't argue that the Panthers haven't had some bad breaks recently with injuries to arguably their two best players, seniors Lamar Patterson and Talib Zana. But that just makes it all the more difficult to pick Pitt to win tonight. The offense was nonexistent with those two guys struggling against Virginia Tech and unless they heal up quickly, Pitt will have their work cut out for them.

One thing in Pitt's favor is that Syracuse is a shorthanded team. They're basically down to six main contributors and one guy that's been playing a decent amount, Baye Moussa Keita, backup big man, is questionable for the game. The Orange are incredibly thin and that's certainly an area Pitt can try to exploit by getting guys into foul trouble early and forcing Syracuse to play a bit hesitant on defense.

The Panthers can surely surprise everyone here. They have the game at home and Pitt always plays well against Syracuse. With their backs against the wall, a Pitt win might be a little surprising but isn't out of the question. Given all that's gone on the past two weeks, though, expecting a Panthers win here is for the ultimate optimist.

After the last game against the Orange, picking Pitt at home would have been expected. Now - not so much.