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Why has North Carolina had Syracuse’s number in ACC play?

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Compared to every other conference team...

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina Tar Heels beat the Syracuse Orange for the sixth straight time on Wednesday night. It was close -- a 78-74 loss that saw SU tied late — but that doesn’t change the fact that Syracuse is now 1-6 against the Heels since joining the ACC.

Since joining the conference for the 2013-14 season, that’s the Orange’s worst record against any league opponent. That rundown:

  1. Virginia Tech (5-1)
  2. Wake Forest (5-1)
  3. Boston College (7-2)
  4. Florida State (4-2)
  5. Miami (4-3)
  6. Notre Dame (3-2)
  7. Duke (3-3)
  8. Georgia Tech (3-3)
  9. NC State (3-3)
  10. Clemson (2-2)
  11. Pittsburgh (5-6)
  12. Louisville (2-3)
  13. Virginia (2-5)
  14. North Carolina (1-6)
NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The easy answer for how this has happened? Over the last five seasons, North Carolina has been very good (including three trips to the Sweet 16 or further), while the short-on-scholarship Orange have been hot and cold since their second season in the league.

Still, when you look at the record against other quality programs, it can’t just be that. Syracuse is 3-3 against Duke. They have winning records against Miami, Notre Dame and FSU. Even against Louisville and Virginia, they’ve managed to win two apiece.

Despite his coy response about the zone this week, Williams has seemed to manage it just fine over these past six meetings (including the 2016 Final Four). Last night’s game was actually the closest of the losses. And UNC has scored at least 75 points in every game.

Perhaps the reason is really just SU’s scoring output in recent seasons, versus North Carolina’s. Last year aside, these past five seasons haven’t featured the most prolific Orange offenses. Meanwhile, UNC’s been top-50 each season (and top-10 these past few). That alone might just the be recipe for a mismatch that creates a 1-6 record against one opponent.

Hopefully the tide eventually turns for the Syracuse offense, and maybe that’s the spark that helps score an upset. In the meantime, just focus on the good W-L records against other teams and hope that maybe SU gets another crack at the Heels in the ACC Tournament.