Friday, January 14, 2011

Big E Hoops Weekend Preview: Game 3 - Syracuse University vs. University of Pittsburgh

We've finally reached previewing the final game of Big E Hoops Weekend. Not sure if we'll still be standing, but if you can't get excited for this match up, you don't deserve to be a college hoops fan. Added bonus, Bill Raftery, the inspiration for this blog might be in the house calling the game on Monday. I'll take that lingerie on the deck anytime.

'Cuse is In the House, Oh My God
Official Name: Syracuse University
Daily Onions Name: 'Cuse
Location: The CNY
Conference: Big East
Mascot: Orange (Orangemen)
Famous non-sports alumni: Joe Biden, Vice President of the United States (Law School); Bob Costas, Sean McDonough, Mike Tirico, Dick Stockton - sports broadcasters; Dick Clark, TV personality; Actor/Model Taye Diggs; former Miss America and Actress Vanessa Williams; Aaron Sorkin, TV writer.
Famous sports alumni: Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets (?); Donovan McNabb, Washington Redskins (?); Jim Brown, Greatest Athlete Ever; Ernie Davis, first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy.
You might know them because….they have a fluffy orange guy named Otto running around on the sideline as their mascot, or because they play their basketball games in the Carrier Dome, which seats 34,000 plus, or because they are a pretty damn good basketball team year in and year out.  Head Coach Jim Boeheim has been there since the Declaration of Independence was signed and has close to 850 victories all-time. He also completely out-kicked his coverage with his wife, Juli.
This year’s team: After losing 3 of the starters from last year's Sweet 16 season, "experts" said the Orange would be a top 5 team in the Big East and ranked in the teens of the top 25. Well, the Orange are currently ranked #4 in the country and are one of four remaining undefeated teams in the country. They are led by "I'm Sorry" Rick Jackson, who rolls out of bed into a double-double. Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph carry a lot of the load on offense for the Cuse, as well as sophomore guard Brandon Triche.
Roster Check:Triche's uncle, Howard, played for Boeheim in the 80s. Howard was the guy that Keith Smart was shooting over to give Indiana the national title in 1987. Freshman center Fab Melo is from Brazil, and despite a lot of hype coming into the season, he's been less than Fab thus far.
Best Player: Rick Jackson has been a beast so far this season and does a lot down low for the Orange. However, if the Cuse wants to make a deep run in March, Kris Joseph (last year's 6th man of the year) needs to be the go to guy and make big shots.

Pitt Happens
Official Name: University of Pittsburgh
Daily Onions Name:Eat Sh*t Pitt
Location: Steel City, USA
Conference: Big East
Mascot: Panthers
Famous non-sports alumni: Actor Gene Kelly; Orrin Hatch, US Senator; Wangari Maathai, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.
Famous sports alumni: Da Coach, Mike Ditka; Dan Marino, NFL Quarterback; Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks.
You might know them because….they've battled for the Big East championship over the past several years....they are known for their physical play and well-respected coach, Jamie Dixon....their home court, The Petereson Events Center has been sold out since it opening during the 2002-03 season, and features the Oakland Zoo student section.
This year’s team: Ranked #5 in the country, the Panthers are 16-1, with their lone loss coming to Tennessee (ya know, when Tennessee was "good" earlier this season). The Panthers are led by the three-headed monster of Ashton Gibbs (17ppg), Brad Wanamaker (13ppg), and Gilbert Brown (12 ppg). Pitt likes to put 'em on the glass, as they are 6th in the nation in team rebounding (back to the playing physical point), and they also like to share, as they lead the nation in assists per game.
Roster Check:The Panthers have two J.J's on their team, and 60% of the roster comes from the NY/NJ/PA area.
Best Player: While Gibbs might be the Panthers leading scorer, Wanamaker has a better all around game. With that said, these two as well as Brown can all shoot from outside, and will look to find holes in the Cuse's 2-3 zone, with the big men cleaning up the mess inside.

Daily Onions Prediction:Syracuse won in NYC on Wednesday, then traveled back to Syracuse to play Cincy tomorrow, before then heading to Pittsburgh for the Big Monday matchup. Pitt won at G'town on Wednesday, and hosts Seton Hall on Saturday. Pitt should be better rested, and have a definite home court advantage. Another thing they have though, is Ramy Nammour in attendance. Ramy, the Monmouth Man (its like a "Michigan Man") on this trip, is a Pitt killer. He's seen three Pitt games live, and Pitt has lost all three of them (Pitt at WVU in Football in 2003, Pitt at Cuse in basketball in 2003, and Tennessee vs. Pitt in basketball earlier this year). With that in mind, we are going Syracuse 65 - Pittsburgh 62 in a good one.

Back to the WVU-Purdue game prediction. WVU dropped a bomb on Providence last night and Purdue lost at Minnesota.  We are riding the momentum here, WVU 61 - Purdue 56.

Be sure to check back over the weekend as we chronicle all the highs and lows of Big E Hoops Weekend!

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