The Syracuse Orange (18-9, 7-7) are back home and hoping to carry the momentum from Saturday’s upset over Miami into another win. That could prove to be a bit more difficult against an opponent like the North Carolina Tar Heels (21-7, 10-5). UNC’s won five straight overall, and also five straight against Syracuse.
You can watch Syracuse vs. North Carolina on ESPN or WatchESPN, if you’re not attending in-person at the Dome.
So what does (some of) the TNIAAM staff think will happen in this game?
UNC 78, Syracuse 72
This seems like a game where the Orange are going to make 10 threes just to keep up the pace of the Tar Heels. UNC leads the nation in rebounding and I don’t think this is a game where Syracuse can rely on offensive rebounds to offset mediocre shooting. Going up against a team that hasn’t scored under 80 points during their five-game winning streak, Syracuse has to limit their turnovers and run an efficient offense. Leaving this entirely up to the defense is not a recipe for an upset.
Syracuse 71, UNC 70
I’ve been going back and forth on this one. Before the NC State game I was so ready to take the Orange, but what if the defense doesn’t show again even when the offense goes off? This will be another Syracuse classic, similar to the Duke game last year, but this time it’ll be Tyus Battle continuing what has been a dominate game for him. If the Orange can contain the perimeter, you can expect them leaving the Carrier Dome with an impressive win.
UNC 80, Syracuse 76
Sticking with the line here. Syracuse is hitting its stride offensively and finding more comfort as Marek Dolezaj begins to step into deeper shots and move with comfort. Defenses aren’t guarding him and he’s making more plays for an offense that begs to score. UNC’s offense opens the door to not only scoring, but free throws which Syracuse have earned a ton of this year. If North Carolina goes small, as it’s known to this year, SU will have chances for put backs, fouls and the other miscellaneous buckets that usually supersede standard half court scoring for this team.
The three-ball, which Oshae Brissett is improving at, should be there too. My worry is free throw efficiency and stopping UNC’s pacing and spacing. Countless moments of weakness that probably prohibit SU from being #1 in defense come when teams run into the half court and score or shoot. The book is out on Syracuse’s transition defense and Roy Williams sounds ready to exploit it better than Miami did. If Syracuse can stop this mammoth of an offense, then they’re ready for the big show in March, I’ll patiently wait to be proven wrong (again).
UNC 71, Syracuse 69
Not so nice. Syracuse has won some big games on the road but lacks a win over a ranked opponent this season. The Orange have done some positive things in last few games but it will need to buck the trend and defend the three to win this one. This game is interesting because UNC usually comes with bruisers inside and Syracuse usually defends the three well. This year’s game will be decided from the perimeter as Carolina relies on its guards, also adding Syracuse killer Cam Johnson in the offseason. The guys will fight hard and make it close, but ultimately North Carolina is too good and closes out down the stretch to earn a tough road win.
UNC 78, Syracuse 68
I seriously (no, really) hope I’m wrong. However, North Carolina’s high-powered offense is multi-faceted and can get a lot of players involved. Syracuse isn’t incapable of an upset. It’s just that previous teams have either relied too heavily on one aspect of the game (threes?) or one player. UNC’s attack is much better suited to go after the zone and get SU’s short bench in foul trouble. That’s enough to pull away here, as they will early in the second half.
Now it’s your turn...
What will be the outcome of the Syracuse vs. North Carolina game?
This poll is closed
Syracuse wins and IT’S (probably) TOURNAMENT TIME!
Syracuse loses and as long as there are no more injuries, this is fine and we can recover