Date & Time: Wednesday, March 11 at 9 p.m. (ish) ET
Location: Greensboro Coliseum, N.C.
Odds: Never tell me the odds. If I had to guess, I’d think it would be a pick ‘em or slight UNC favorite because of location.
Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3
Rivalry: 4-13, UNC... it just keeps getting worse.
Current Streak: 9, North Carolina... and worse.
First Meeting: The North Carolina Tar Heels and Syracuse Orange faced off for the first time in the East Regional Final of the NCAA Tournament in 1957. North Carolina won the game 67-58 and would go on to win the national championship and a 32-0 season. Obviously things went well for the Orange too, and they were led by a trio of seniors: Vince Cohen, Gary Clark, and Jim Snyder.
Last Meeting: Awful. That would be the single word I use to describe the last matchup of these teams less than a month ago. North Carolina dominated the glass and drained 11 threes, seven of them by Cole Anthony alone. Syracuse was led by Bourama Sidibe who had a career game with 17 points and 15 rebounds.
Head Coaches: Syracuse - Jim Boeheim (44th year; 1,064-392 at SU) | North Carolina - Roy Williams (17th Year, 466-150 at UNC)
Coach Bio: Roy Williams has coached the North Carolina Tar Heels for almost 20 years now. He’s won three national championships and been to five Final Fours in that span. Sadly for poor Roy, this season hasn’t gone as well.
At 13-18, this was far and away his worst record at UNC. Somewhere, a single tear was shed and a tiny violin played.
Before UNC, Williams was the head coach at Kansas for 15 more years. He was national runner-up twice in that time and went to the Final Four three more times. Williams has 882 wins in total, good enough for seventh all-time. He is the only coach in NCAA history with 400 wins at two different schools.
Last Year: A 29-7 season and 16-2 record in ACC play earned UNC a regular season conference championship tie with Virginia. They lost to Zion Williamson... er, I mean Duke, in the ACC semifinals, however still managed to claim a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They made it to the Sweet Sixteen before ultimately falling to Auburn.
Last Game: The Tar Heels closed out their season with an 89-76 loss to Duke. With the loss, they were swept by the Blue Devils this season and finished tied for last (dead last after tiebreakers) in the conference at 6-14. Garrison Brooks had another sensational game for UNC, scoring 26 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, including nine offensive boards. Have I mentioned Brooks is only a junior... and it’s UNC who somehow seems immune to kids leaving early? Ugh.
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: We talked about Garrison Brooks last time, and he will absolutely still be a monster in this game. Today however, let’s focus on the other Tar Heel that absolutely sucked the life out of the Dome the first time we clashed in Syracuse: Cole Anthony.
Anthony was hitting just 27 percent of his three-point attempts in conference play going into the game against the Orange. He hit 7-of-11 against us. He then hit 4-of-5 against Wake Forest the next game to finish over 36 percent in conference.
When he’s on, he is as good as anyone from deep. When he’s off, he’s way off. Sound like anyone we know?
Aside from his perimeter prowess, Cole also killed us with his dribble penetration and transition offense. Anthony does a tremendous job of getting out in transition and taking it to the bucket. But even in a set defense, he is quick enough to get to the basket and force the defense to collapse. If SU doesn’t do a better job of stopping his penetration, it’s going to be a long night for the Orange.
If Syracuse Wins: It’s about flipping time. Nine straight losses to UNC is unbearable. This is, once again, our best shot at beating the Tar Heels for the foreseeable future. They are reloading next year and won’t have injury problems, so now is the time.
Plus, I’ve got the Orange to win the ACC tournament and steal a surprise bid, just like in ‘06. Crazier things have happened. Step one is beat UNC.
If Syracuse Loses: Not surprising, and a sour end to a bitter season. I won’t say bittersweet, because aside from a few surprises (Elijah Hughes overall game, Joe Girard’s poise, flashes from Quincy Guerrier) there wasn’t much sweetness to the season. A road win over Virginia is cool, but not something to hang our hats on.
The big question is, if we lose, do we even make the NIT? That’s a pretty scary reality we’d be facing.
Fun Fact 1: Remember how Roy Williams had two runner-up finishes while coaching at Kansas? We’re one of those two losses. Back in 2003, Carmelo Anthony led the Orange to our only NCAA championship (so far) over Kansas, 81-78. Regardless of how things play out against UNC, we’ll always have that.
Fun Fact 2: Syracuse and North Carolina met three other times in the NCAA Tournament. The most recent of these was in the Final Four in 2016 during Syracuse’s miracle tournament run as a 10-seed.