Pitt opens up the Pete for the second time in three days and will host the Syracuse Orange in a matchup of top five teams on Monday. Whenever you play a top-five team, nothing is guaranteed. But here are five reasons why Pitt should come out on top on Monday.
1. The Game is at the Pete. Pitt is an amazing 49-1 over its past 50 games at the Petersen Events Center, and it really feeds off the energy of the Oakland Zoo and the home fans. It's not as if teams lay down when they play Pitt on the road, but the Panthers generally make it hard on them. Pitt is nearly unbeatable when playing at Oakland, regardless of the opponent.
2. Pitt is 8-0 Against top-five teams all-time at the Pete. The Panthers haven't simply been beating unranked non-conference foes at home, they've beaten some of college basketball's best teams. So much so, in fact, that Pitt is a perfect 8-0 against top-five teams in the building's history. Think about that for a second - the team has not lost a single game against a top-five team at the Pete. The Panthers always seem to play their best against some of the best teams at home and will not be threatened playing a Syracuse team that may be the best in the Big East.
3. Syracuse will be without Kris Joseph. Joseph won't even make the trip after injuring his head in a weekend game against Cincinnati. Joseph is the team's leading scorer, averaging nearly 15 points per game, and its second-leading rebounder. Syracuse is not without other players who are capable of stepping up, but Joseph's absence could help Pitt.
4. Pitt owns Syracuse. I hadn't really thought about it all that much, but Pitt has absolutely owned Syracuse lately. The Panthers have won the last seven regular-season matchups against the Orange, and for some reason, Jamie Dixon has given Jim Boeheim's teams fits over the years. Boeheim is too good a coach to keep losing, but right now, Pitt has the hot hand.
5. Pitt is good. Other than a speed bump against Tennessee, Pitt has been nearly perfect this season. The Panthers' offense has been running on all cylinders and has helped to supplement its trademark defense and rebounding. When Pitt shoots at a high percentage, the Panthers are nearly impossible to beat. I expect the Panthers to come out of Monday's battle with another win.