New York State In-depth

Syracuse Orange Men’s Basketball: What to Watch Against North Carolina

It’s a big fight tonight between Syracuse Orange (13-7, 6-3) and North Carolina Tar Heels (14-6, 6-3).

It’s an opportunity for the Orange to pick up their first major win and show that their improved game of late isn’t just a mirage. This game will also keep the winner within reach of the top of the ACC while the loser will fall three games behind the Clemson Tigers.

Last year these teams played an OT thriller; can they put it back together? Here’s what to watch out for in the Syracuse-North Carolina game:

Dom: The Battle of the Great

Tuesday night’s game will be a true battle between two of the ACC’s finest Big Men. Jesse Edwards (13.9 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 2.8 BPG and 59% Shooting) continues to excel at both ends of the court with his blocking shots and one-on-one finishes on the edge, but he’ll get the job done out for him against Armando Bacot of UNC (17.8 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 1.1 BPG and 58% shooting). Bacot is a great athlete who could put Edwards in trouble early on. It will be interesting to see how Edwards holds up and if Mounir Hima or one of the forwards could step up with a rebound for the Orange and prevent UNC from getting any extra scoring chances.

Kevin: Patience in attack

This Carolina team wins on the defensive end. They defend the three-point line and limit second chances. Syracuse have been looking better on offense lately as they have been willing to move the ball and take what the defense gives them. I’d expect Carolina to use Caleb Love and Leaky Black against Joe Girard, meaning it’s up to the other Syracuse players to move the ball and themselves to make good shots.

Christian: Watch out for the big one

You might think this is about Armando Bacot, and while that’s the obvious problem on UNC, there’s another big problem. Posted to Chapel Hill, Pete Nance can expand the Syracuse zone. He doesn’t take a high volume of threes, but we’ve seen this season that teams aren’t afraid to dramatically increase the frequency of long-range shots. UNC will not take advantage if RJ Davis is the only tar heel shooting three-pointers. Nance can play Brady Manek’s role from last season by sitting in the corner to land a corner kick. At the same time, Nance can support Bacot when he gets too much attention. He’s a matchup nightmare for the Orange.

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Mike: Take our poison

Although they have struggled on points this season, UNC will still present a difficult challenge. The Tar Heels are the best shooting team in the conference, they pull the most fouls by a country mile (a full FIVE more free throws per game than the next team) and they rack up the most rebounds on defense. All of this combined probably means SU needs a big day from afar. If the orange isn’t shot sharp early and often by JGIII, coupled with enough points from Judah and Jesse to keep them honest, this game could make up for the late start by effectively being over well before the final buzzer.

Szuba: Bacot vs. Edwards

It’ll be a battle of the top two bigs in the ACC as Bacot puts on an 18-rebound performance against NC State while Edwards only tests the UNC big in the rebound. While Edwards won’t face Bacot in the zone, expect these two to clash deep. Edwards needs to avoid trouble and score to keep Syracuse competitive. Whoever wins this matchup has a good chance of winning the game.

That’s what we’re waiting for, now it’s your turn.

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