Day & Time: Wednesday, March 7, 2018, 9:30 p.m. ET
Location: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.
TV/Streaming: ESPN2/ACC Network Extra
Radio: Syracuse IMG Network, WAER 88.3, Sirius 93/XM 193
North Carolina blog: Tar Heel Blog
Rivalry: 10-4, UNC
Current Streak: 6, Heels
First Meeting: Eventual 1957 national champ North Carolina beat Syracuse 67-58 in the Elite 8. Vinnie Cohen had 25 points on his own (he’d averaged 24.2 per game that year), but the rest of the team didn’t deliver much against the dominating Heels. If you want to point to anything specific as to why SU didn’t make the Final Four that year, perhaps it’s Jim Brown. He didn’t play with the team during his senior season -- leaving the Orangemen without the additional scoring punch they could’ve used in this matchup.
Last Meeting: The first half went by the book, as UNC led by nine at the break. But the Orange would press and come back to tie the game at 74 with just minutes to spare. Late errors were the difference in a 78-74 defeat. Still, Syracuse showed they could hang with them while leaning heavily on the “big three” of Tyus Battle, Frank Howard and Oshae Brissett scoring a combined 66 points.
Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (42nd year, 1,024-369); North Carolina: Roy Williams (15th year, 420-124)
Coach Bio: Williams attended UNC and played JV hoops, and after four years began his coaching career at the high school level. He was back in Chapel Hill by 1978 as an assistant under Dean Smith, and he remained there for a decade until getting the Kansas gig in 1988. After missing the NCAAs in his first year, Roy would start KU on its tournament streak that’s still active this season. Even with four Final Four trips, though, the Jayhawks always fell short under Williams. He’d leave for his alma mater after Syracuse beat Kansas in 2003. Williams has won three titles at UNC while presiding over a long period of academic scandal that resulted in no penalties for the Heels.
Last Year: North Carolina recovered from 2016’s crushing title game defeat to get back to and win it this time, over Gonzaga. The 33-7 Tar Heels were among the top 10 or so teams in the country all season, earning a 1-seed and then battling through a tough South bracket before taking home the championship.
Last Game: UNC squandered a 10-point halftime lead over Duke, to lose 74-64 at Cameron Indoor. The Heels were outrebounded by four, and took just five free throws (hitting four) vs. Duke’s 20. Shooting 37 percent for the game was also no match for the Blue Devils. That loss assisted the numerous tiebreaker scenarios that knocked them down to the 6-seed here.
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Theo Pinson had an all around great game vs. Syracuse last time around, with 23 points, six assists and seven boards. However, I’m still most concerned about Joel Berry II’s ability from outside. He’s 79-of-222 from three this year and attempted 12 (made four) against the Orange a couple weeks ago.
Jack Ferguson Memorial Random Three-Point Performance: Either Brandon Robinson or Andrew Platek, who have both hit over 35 percent of their threes in limited minutes this year. If this game’s close, you probably won’t see a ton of them, however.
If Syracuse Wins: I’m going to cautiously say we’re in? No guarantees, clearly, with the way the bubble can change so wildly. However, that would get SU to even (7-7) away from the Carrier Dome and score them another Tier 1 victory (their third away from home). With all of that, nine top-100 wins, quality computer numbers and no truly bad losses, I like our odds.
If Syracuse Loses: We’re going to be sweating things out come Sunday.
Fun Fact No. 1: Virginia, Notre Dame and North Carolina are the only 2017-18 Orange opponents to own active win-streaks of more than one against Syracuse. That’s not necessarily “fun” but it’s interesting that SU has been able to keep things pretty even with much of the ACC these past two years, save those three.
Fun Fact No. 2: Williams’ current seven- (about to be eight-) year NCAA Tournament streak is the second-longest in school history. If that seems weird, it’s because the longest one was 26 seasons. Doesn’t really leave a lot of room for other streaks.