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Heel Tough Blog: Syracuse Preview

Tonight is senior night for Carolina Basketball, as they host Syracuse in the home finale of the 2021-22 season. Carolina enters with a 21-8 (13-5) record and is currently among the teams with a Last Four Byes according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. The Heels are coming off a dominant performance on Saturday at NC State, winning 84-74, behind a powerful double-double from Armando Bacot. A win over Syracuse wraps up the all-important double-bye in the ACC Tournament.

Syracuse hasn’t had the season they wanted to have, as they are just 15-14, and 9-9 in the ACC. With the return of Buddy Boeheim, there was reason to believe that the Orange was going to be a factor in the ACC, this season. Limited depth has really hurt them this season, as, like Carolina, they only play about 6-7 players on a nightly basis. All 5 starters average double figures scoring for a team that shoots over 37% from behind the three-point line.

Carolina will look to close out the home slate with a win over a mediocre opponent. The natural instinct might be to look ahead to Saturday’s rematch with Duke, but Carolina can’t afford another bad home loss if they want to participate in the NCAA Tournament next month. The Heels have enjoyed much success against the Orange since they joined the ACC, and will look to continue that tonight:

  1. Attack the Zone: UNC can’t get trapped into settling for perimeter shots against the famed 2-3 zoned they’ll see from Syracuse tonight. They still need to pound the ball inside and play through Armando Bacot. The best way to attack the zone is from the foul line, which you can expect to see Brady Manek positioned there, as he’s a quality high-low passer.

  2. Start Fast: This follows the way Carolina attacks the zone. UNC isn’t built to play from behind, and after playing on Saturday, having the chance to get guys rest like Caleb Love is imperative. UNC started off Saturday’s game with a 20-3 run and was able to control the game the rest of the way. Asking for a 20-3 run to start may be too much to ask for, but Carolina needs to take control of the game in the first half.

  3. Defend Three Point Line: The one thing Syracuse does well is shoot the long ball, as they shoot 37% as a team from behind the arc. All 5 starters shoot over 33% from behind the arc, led by Joseph Girard III, team leading 41%. The only way Syracuse can win the game is if they make a handful of triples. If Carolina can run them off the three-point line, it’s going to be hard envisioning Cuse making enough plays on offense to win.

Series History: UNC is 14-6 all-time against Syracuse, and they are 10-3 against the Orange since they joined the ACC. UNC has never lost to Syracuse in the Smith Center.


UNC - 40th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 113.9 (25th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 99.2 (87th)

Syracuse - 86th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 115.3 (17th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 105.9 (221st)


UNC - 40th.

Syracuse - 92nd.

TV Info: Tonight’s game will start at 7 PM, on ESPN.

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