clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Syracuse women’s basketball: what to watch for vs. #14 North Carolina

The Orange return home for another midseason test against ranked opposition.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Notre Dame at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Based on our latest bracketology update, the pressure is ramping up for the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (15-9, 6-7) if it’s looking to secure a postseason spot in March’s NCAAW Tournament.

The Orange, entering its game against the Tar Heels coming off a 79-72 road victory over the Boston College Eagles, now begin a three-game stretch against ACC programs ranked in the AP Top-25.

‘Cuse kicks its mini-gauntlet of ranked opposition Thursday evening at the JMA Wireless Dome against the #14 North Carolina Tar Heels (17-6, 8-4). UNC enters the contest coming off a seven-point road loss to the Louisville Cardinals, but had previously won its last eight games. The Tar Heels project to finish as a three-seed in ESPN’s latest bracketology update.

Tip-off between Syracuse and North Carolina is at 7 pm EST in the Dome, with the game available for streaming on ESPN’s ACC Network+.

Here’s what to watch for between the Orange and the Tar Heels.

Question #1: Can the Orange get to 70-75 points?

It sounds like a simple question, but the Tar Heels averaged 71 points per game in its last four victories while holding its opponents to 58.5 points per game. Even in its recent loss to the Cardinals, UNC only fell 62-55 on the road. This is a defensive-minded opponent who can win even on a down-shooting night, akin to an earlier ranked opponent Syracuse faced earlier this season in the NC State Wolfpack.

The Orange have averaged under 57 points per game in its last three matchups against ranked opponents. The team is going to need some help outside of Dyaisha Fair and hot perimeter shooting from 1-2 of the starters.

Question #2: What’s the deal with Teisha Hyman?

The starting Syracuse guard missed the Orange’s last two games with a lower-leg injury but will suit up today against UNC. Hyman has been sorely missed given the (already) lack of quality depth for this year’s program. If even relatively healthy, she can potentially make an impact as a slasher and shot creator while taking some pressure off of Fair. If she could play in the 20-25 minute range, that would be enough for the Orange to possess enough firepower to possibly pull off an upset.

Question #3: Will Syracuse’s fastbreak offense be there?

The other problem with the Tar Heels: this team ranks as one of the best statistical teams on the passing front, giving opponents just the third-fewest turnovers in the ACC while still forcing slightly more opponent turnovers per game (5th in ACC) than the Orange (6th in ACC). Capitalizing on possessions while not giving UNC more scoring opportunities than it needs is going to need to be a priority for the Orange.

Syracuse versus North Carolina preview by the numbers

All-time: Syracuse is 9-5 all-time against North Carolina, including winners of two of the last three matchups.

Last matchup: The Tar Heels defeated the Orange 79-43 in Chapel Hill in December 2021.

Win/loss implications: A win gives the Orange its most resume-boosting win yet and first victory against a ranked opponent, while a loss would leave ‘Cuse with an 0-8 record against NCAA NET top-50 programs.

Prediction: Syracuse’s recent win and Hyman’s return give the Orange a bit more confidence heading into the game. Despite UNC’s talent, the Tar Heels have had their moments of inconsistency even in victories. Call me crazy, but I’ll say ‘Cuse sneaks away with a 67-62 win.

Syracuse vs. North Carolina Team Stats

Statistical Categories Syracuse North Carolina
Statistical Categories Syracuse North Carolina
PPG 74.5 72
Opponent PPG 67.4 59.8
Margin of Victory plus-7.1 plus-12.2
FG% 42% 42%
Defensive FG% 41% 36%
3FG% 31% 32%
Defensive 3FG% 29% 31%
FT% 72% 69%
RPG 41.5 39.6
APG 14 13.4
T/O 16 14.1
A/T ratio 0.9 0.9
SPG 10.3 9.3
BPG 4.1 4.4