The Syracuse Orange (11-7, 3-2) find themselves in the top half of the ACC despite all the perceived gloom-and-doom around the program’s current situation. Still, they’re without a major quality win thus far. Perhaps the North Carolina Tar Heels (16-3, 4-1) would like to help us out there? It’ll be a tough order, as the Heels are among the most talented teams in the nation.
So what’s going to happen when the Orange and UNC face off at 7 p.m. ET on Monday night? The TNIAAM staff takes some guesses:
North Carolina 88, Syracuse 70
Shield your eyes, avoid Twitter and take cover — this one is going to get ugly. Syracuse may have been able to take care of Boston College at home, but going up against No. 11 North Carolina is a whole other animal. The Tar Heels are arguably the most complete team in the ACC and are unbeaten at home. The Orange have played better defensively as of late, but they haven’t had to defend an offense like UNC’s, which ranks fourth overall, averaging 89.6 points per game. By halftime you, me and everyone are going to be saying we "miss the old 2-3."
North Carolina 90, Syracuse 78
The 2-3 zone continues to improve, but North Carolina checks all the boxes of a legit Final Four contender. I fully expect UNC to dominate the zone inside and out - even on misses UNC should be able to crash the offensive glass. North Carolina is the best rebounding team in the country so don't expect Syracuse to get many second chance point. With or without Tony Bradley the Tar Heels are too deep and too talented and Syracuse falls on the road despite another big game from Andrew White.
North Carolina 84, Syracuse 68
North Carolina is one the best teams in the country, and currently playing like the best team in the ACC, IMO. After the win over Florida State on Saturday, it really opened some eyes on how good this team can be. I didn’t like the matchup last year in the Final Four, and I don’t like tonight’s matchup either, for obvious reasons. Justin Jackson and Joel Berry each shoot over 40 percent from deep. Kennedy Meeks is one of the best bigs in the country, and it’s hard to win in the Dean Dome.
North Carolina 87, Syracuse 71
UNC brings back a bunch of last year’s talent and is at home in this game, while Syracuse’s defense is nowhere close to what 2015-16 showed us. Those are the easiest reason to pick against the Orange, who lost three games to the Tar Heels last season (including one in the Final Four). Syracuse looks better of late, but not to the point where they can knock off a top-10 caliber squad on the road right now. The Heels out run SU for a half, then coast to victory in the second.
What about you?