The Syracuse Orange are not supposed to be here. The North Carolina Tar Heels are. For better or worse, neither of those things matter once the ball is tipped. So after all the talk, all the complaining, and all the hype, can Jim Boeheim's crew find a way to knock off their second 1-seed and make it to the National Championship game? Why the hell not, right? Well let's see what the TNIAAM crew thinks.
North Carolina 79 – Syracuse 71
While I could easily envision a scenario where Syracuse somehow pulls off the win and continues their magical run (honestly nothing can genuinely surprise me at this point), I still can’t bring myself to "predict" it. North Carolina swept Syracuse in both of their match-ups in the regular season, and is currently playing even better basketball now. Heading into the tournament, North Carolina only had two weaknesses: three-point shooting and defense. Clearly they have solved their three-point shooting woes, just ask Indiana. And while their defense still isn’t great, it’s an improvement. With no major weaknesses left, North Carolina will most likely be advancing to the National Championship Saturday night.
North Carolina 75 - Syracuse 69
Cue the disloyal idiot! Syracuse is riding high off their recent successes and definitely should feel great going into Saturday. However, I think their mistakes in the past few games will catch up with them and they'll be overwhelmed by UNC stars. Although this seems to be a likely outcome, I wouldn't count out Cuse completely. *cue Jim Carrey "there's a chance gif"*
Syracuse 76 - North Carolina 72
Why stop the #loyalty now? Syracuse came close to knocking off UNC at the Dome, and then closer still in Chapel Hill. This isn't a claim on talent, since the Heels have us beat there too. It's about familiarity and who's playing better defense right now. I saw what Carolina did to Notre Dame last weekend and it should've petrified me. But it didn't, because this Syracuse team's magic ability to get back into any game has me believing. Michael Gbinije gets back on track, the team gets some late stops and Syracuse heads back to the national championship game for the first time since 2003.
North Carolina 77 - Syracuse 71
I expect Syracuse will pack it in and dare the Tar Heels to take a lot of 3's. With the numbers showing that shooting percentages are lower in Houston, that should work out in favor of the Orange. However, it also means this game will come down to Syracuse keeping UNC off of the offensive glass. If all 5 players can get on the glass and keep the Tar Heels from grabbing fewer than 40% of the offensive rebounds, this run can continue on to the title game. Another potential positive for Syracuse is that outside of 10-minute stretches, the offense hasn't clicked on all cylinders. A strong shooting night and we could be in for the best Monday night since 2003. In my head, Brice Johnson does just enough to end the Orange dream, but I've been wrong plenty of times so what's one more.
Syracuse 72 - North Carolina 70
Explain it? I can't. I also can't explain how Syracuse beat Virginia and how they even got here. So why bother trying to make sense of things now? UNC will be a seriously-strong opponent, as we know, but in that last time down in Chapel Hill we showed that we can make a game of it. Here in a cavernous dome, hopefully that gives us a little familiarity boost. Syracuse also comes into the game with nothing to lose and the Tar Heels are expected to win. Le'ts hope that works in our favor.
Now it's your turn...