Teams: Syracuse Orange (11-7, 3-2) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (16-3, 4-1)
Day & Time: Monday, January 16, 7 p.m. ET
Venue: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Line: UNC, -14.5
Radio: Syracuse IMG Network, WAER 88.3, Sirius 93/XM 193
North Carolina Blog: Tar Heel Blog
Rivalry: 8-4, North Carolina
Current Streak: 4, North Carolina
First Meeting: Syracuse and UNC faced off in the NCAA Tournament for the first of four separate times, this time losing 67-58 in the Elite 8. Vinnie Cohen had 25 points, but it wasn’t enough to outlast the Heels, who’d go on to the Final Four and win their first national title.
Last Meeting: Also in the NCAA Tournament, this time in the Final Four. Syracuse’s miracle run came to an end as the talented Heels’ shooters were too much for the vaunted zone defense. Despite Trevor Cooney’s efforts to lead a comeback in the second half, the Orange fell 83-66.
Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (41st Year, 996-349); North Carolina: Roy Williams (14th Year, 381-111)
Head Coach Bio: You know Roy pretty well. The UNC grad was an assistant at Kansas for a decade before taking the Jayhawks’ head coaching gig in 1988. While he never won a title at KU, he led them to 24 or more wins in all but one season (his first). Roy went 418-101 with Kansas, though the one loss that may haunt him the most came to a certain orange-clad team from Central New York back in 2003. Doubt you need to be reminded.
In 2003, Williams headed back to North Carolina, and he’s been there ever since. The Heels have made the NCAA Tournament in all but one season in his tenure -- making four Final Fours and winning two national titles once there. Last year’s 33-7 mark was his best season since going 32-6 in 2012. Williams is 5-4 all-time against Syracuse, with two of those wins coming in the NCAA Tournament. If he defeats the Orange on Monday, it will be his 800th career win.
Last Year: As discussed, UNC was very good. They made it to the Final Four, beat Syracuse and then got their hearts ripped out and stomped on in the closing seconds of the title game vs. Villanova. That last part would be more enjoyable if the Wildcats weren’t the team to do it to them.
Last Game: The Tar Heels outlasted ninth-ranked Florida State, 96-83. UNC came out flying, putting up 50 points in the first half, then kept at it in the second as well. Joel Berry II led all scorers with 26 points in the game.
"Fear Me, I've Killed Hundreds of Timelords": Pick your poison. UNC has four players who can and will score in double figures if the Syracuse defense isn’t up to snuff. The most dangerous of them is probably Berry, given his three-point prowess. He’s 41-of-96 (42.7 percent) on the season so far, while averaging a total of 16.2 points per game. Both he and Justin Jackson can shoot from beyond the arc, and are adept at getting to the free throw line (and hitting shots while there, too).
If Syracuse Wins: They’re suddenly 4-2 in league play and own one of the better wins on any resume in the country. Still a long road ahead, clearly. But beating the Tar Heels would certainly make that road a little easier.
If Syracuse Loses: Everything’s as it was. Syracuse is a decent team that can’t beat good-to-great teams.
Fun Fact No. 1: UNC has received three NCAA notices of allegations around its academic scandal -- including one as recently as December. Neither Williams, nor the program, have seen any punishment to-date. You can expect that anything they do eventually receive pales in comparison to what Syracuse got just a couple years ago.
Fun Fact No. 2: Syracuse is 0-3 all-time at the Dean Dome. That’s not fun, but rather, is just a fact. It would be awesome to end that streak tonight.