It’s the third weekend of conference play in the ACC, so let’s take a look at the match-ups from an advanced statistics perspective. With every team except North Carolina having played at least four ACC games, we will now be using conference games only statistics along with team rankings in each category. For each game we will show how the two teams compare in efficiency ratings and the four factors, offense versus defense. We will also look at interesting areas of particular strength and weakness that could hold the key to the outcomes of these games. All numbers are from Ken Pomeroy’s site and are current through games of January 15, 2014. The games are presented in the order of best combined Pomeroy overall team rankings (all times EST).
Saturday - Pittsburgh (16-1, 4-0 ACC) @ Syracuse (17-0, 4-0 ACC) – ESPN (4:00 PM)
- Pomeroy Prediction: (#2) Syracuse 66-61 (#8) Pittsburgh
The best match-up of the weekend is ironically between these two ACC newcomers. Something has to give as Pittsburgh is leading the conference with 78.5 points per game in ACC play, while the Orange have the stingiest defense, allowing only 50.0 points per game. As he has all season, senior Lamar Patterson leads the way for the Panthers, averaging 20.0 PPG in ACC games. He will probably match up frequently with Syracuse’s All-America candidate C.J. Fair (17.1 PPG) in Pitt’s man-to-man defense. The battle at point guard may decide the game as Syracuse’s freshman sensation Tyler Ennis faces off with Pitt sophomore James Robinson. In conference games only, Ennis leads the league in assists (6.5 APG) and steals (3.0 SPG), while Robinson has the ACC’s best assist/turnover ratio (16/2).
Stat Watch. Pittsburgh leads the ACC by a huge margin in field goal percentage in conference games at 51.6 percent, while Syracuse is 10th at 40.9. Ball-handling will be important as these are the top two teams in the ACC in steals. It will also be interesting to see how many three-point shots Pittsburgh tries against the Orange zone, as they are last in the league in attempts, while Syracuse allows more than any other team.