Once again, the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team (13-7, 6-3) has its eyes set on securing its first win against a big-name opponent. The Orange will have that opportunity Tuesday night in a primetime matchup against the North Carolina Tar Heels (14-6, 6-3), who enter the game on a three-game winning streak.
Tip-off between the Orange and the Tar Heels is scheduled for 9 pm EST, with the game also available to watch on ESPN.
Here are our predictions:
Syracuse 76, North Carolina 69
I usually go conservative on my predictions, but UNC is only 2-4 on the road with an eight-point win against the mediocre Portland Pilots and another over the lowly Louisville Cardinals. Even though UNC is the best scoring offense in the ACC (79.6 PPG), it equally gives up those points back on the defensive end (72.3 PPG, fourth-worst behind Wake Forest, Florida State, and Louisville). It’ll be a battle of two elite backcourts and a pair of the ACC’s best bigs, so bench production will be especially critical in this game. If Syracuse could win the possession and long-distance shooting fronts, it should be able to squeak by with a must-have home victory.
North Carolina 74, Syracuse 72
This is a game the Orange can win. UNC has some veteran players but they’ve been up and down this year. If Jesse Edwards can stay out of foul trouble, he can help limit Armando Bacot, but if not, it could be a long night for the young Syracuse forwards. I think Judah Mintz will need to provide scoring as UNC will likely throw multiple defenders at Joe Girard to keep him in check. Can Syracuse show enough patience to take good shots and avoid turnovers? If they can hit 40% from 3 again this could be an upset win but it’s hard to predict one based on how the teams look coming in.
Syracuse 78, North Carolina 77
Kevin is right. Syracuse can win this game. However, there are a couple of things that need to happen. The Orange need to keep Bacot off the glass, especially on UNC’s offensive end. Also, Syracuse needs to avoid giving RJ Davis and Caleb Love too many looks at three. Davis is going to make quite a few, but the Orange can limit Love’s makes, as he’s been inconsistent at best from three. UNC is also in the middle of the pack in terms of turnovers and Syracuse has gone on runs because of points off turnovers. Things have to go extremely right for the Orange to win. But there is a path.
Syracuse 85, North Carolina 83
I’m buying into the optimism. This game will be a shootout, with the Orange and Tar Heels both getting hotter by the day after their respective slow starts. Something’s got to give, but neither team will do so easily with major Tournament implications in play. UNC has a tremendous starting five, but in a game with lots of fastbreaks and quick shots, the team with the deeper bench usually has the advantage. If Maliq Brown and Quadir Copeland can play support roles, ‘Cuse has a real chance at an upset in the Dome.
North Carolina 81, Syracuse 78
North Carolina has been rounding into form of late and while Syracuse has shown signs of improvement, the Orange have struggled to win games late against better competition. North Carolina should be able to edge Syracuse in the paint and having RJ Davis and Caleb Love coming off of high scoring game is worrisome. That, and Leaky Black has the potential to slow Joe Girard’s recent scoring spree.
Now it’s your turn. Who wins the game tonight?
Who wins the game between Syracuse and North Carolina?
This poll is closed
North Carolina wins and we need Roy Williams to stop dancing
Syracuse wins and that sound you hear is Joe Lunardi gnashing his teeth about adding the Orange to Bubble Watch