For the second time in less that two weeks, Carolina will battle Syracuse. The Tar Heels who are seeded 14th in the ACC tournament, dispatched Virginia Tech 78-56, to move to the second round in Greensboro. Garrison Brooks was one of 4 Tar Heels to score in double figures, as he led the team to a fourth win in five games.
When Carolina traveled to New York back in February , they had just won for the first time in a long time. They took that newfound confidence into the Carrier Dome, and routed the Orange 92-79. Roy Williams continued his success coaching against zone defenses, as they won their 9th straight over Syracuse.
Syracuse is a lot like this North Carolina team, in regards that the only way they’ll be playing in March is if they win this prestigious tournament. The only difference is that they have to win one less game in as many days. Elijah Hughes is their leading scorer at over 18 per game. He’s also their leading assist man, at over 3 helpers. He does all this while playing almost 37 minutes a night, as depth isn’t a strength of the team. In addition to Hughes, Syracuse gets contributions from Buddy Boeheim and Marek Dolezaj. They’ve just had a hard time putting the pieces together, which is reflective of their 17-14 mark.
The confidence in the locker room wouldn’t reflect the 14-18 record this team owns. Having won 4 of 5, has this team believing they are going to be a problem for the length of the tournament. It’s only the second game in as many days, so fatigue won’t be a huge factor in this game, but they’ll still need to play well to advance to the Quarterfinals. Here’s what they have to do, to get past Syracuse:
Continued Offensive Success Against the Zone: Miami and Syracuse have been the only teams to play primary zone defense against UNC this season. In both games, the Tar Heels scored over 90 points, and won the game rather easily. Roy Williams might not love to coach zone defense, but he thrives at coaching zone offense. The ball will need to go to foul line to Brooks or Bacot, and attack from there. In the first meeting, Carolina was hot from three, if they don’t find the same success they’ll need to play through bigs to open the offense.
Rebounds: Carolina out-rebounded the Orange by 10 the first time, and if they do that their chances of winning are pretty high. UNC took it to Virginia Tech in the tournament opener, and it opened up a margin too large to lose. Usually the zone is a great way to hide a deficiency in the rebounding category, but they have a hard time keeping the Heels off the glass.
Containing Hughes: Elijah put up great numbers, despite his team not winning a lot of games. With that in mind, he’s more than capable of taking over the game, and single handedly will his team to victory. The defense was sharp against the Hokies, and it’ll need to be once more with the offensive firepower the Orange poses.
Series History: Carolina is 13-4 against Syracuse all time, having won 9 straight. Overall Roy Williams is 10-4 against the Orange, including 9-2 as the head coach in Chapel Hill.
UNC - 70th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 108.9 ( 62nd ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 98.4 ( 89th )
Syracuse - 56th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 112.9 ( 23rd ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 100.8 ( 132nd )
TV Info: It’ll be the final game of a full slate at the Greensboro Coliseum. With that in mind, it’ll be a 9:30 tip for the game, with ESPN2 televising the tournaments night session.