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Pitt to face Syracuse in ACC Tournament

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

With Pitt's loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday, the Panthers closed out the end of the regular season in disappointing fashion. We've been talking about the team winning at least one more game and now they'll have to do it in the ACC Tournament - against Syracuse.

The game isn't a great draw for either team, if you think about it. For Pitt, they will have to pull off the difficult feat of beating the Orange for a third straight time. The Panthers have a great track record against Syracuse but beating any team that much just isn't all that easy. For the Orange, well, they've not only lost the past two against Pitt, but dating back to last season, the last four.

Pitt looks like the better team, which is what you want. But there's no question that the Orange will again be giving the Panthers their best shot. Pitt isn't a top five team and at some point, in a matchup of pretty evenly matched teams, you have to wonder what the breaking point is.

One thing in Pitt's corner is that the Orange aren't playing that well lately. They've lost four of their past five games (including the 14-point loss to the Panthers in the last meeting) and ended their season with a road loss to Florida State. Pitt didn't finish their season on a high note but aren't quite in the free fall that Syracuse has been.

The story line for me is to see what Pitt gets out of Jamel Artis. Artis has struggled quite a bit in the last two games, but has had big games against Syracuse this season - 21 in the first contest and 18 in the second. The Panthers are a much better team when they can get him going offensively and they'll need him to step it up.

And to wrap up, on a side note, Chas over at Pitt Blather had a pretty good point on Twitter:

For years there's been talk of a Pitt-Syracuse rivalry, even though the fanbases are pretty civil toward each other for the most part. A game like this, with potentially an NCAA Tournament bid on the line (especially for the Orange), could make for incredible drama and might be one thing to help push a rivalry along.

Big game for both programs with a lot at stake.

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