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UNC vs. Syracuse Preview

A quick turnaround for No. 11 North Carolina as Syracuse arrives in town for a Monday night tip, a little more than 50 hours after Saturday's win over No. 9 Florida State. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be aired by ESPN.

North Carolina (16-3, 4-1 ACC) vs. Syracuse (11-7, 3-2 ACC)
Chapel Hill, N.C. – Dean E. Smith Center
Monday, 7 p.m.
ESPN (Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas)

"We're going to play a tough team every night and that's a good thing for us because we need to put some stamps on our resume. This isn't daunting. It's a challenge and an opportunity… This is why you come to the ACC. This is what people want to see – the top competition, the top players, the top coaches. We need some legitimate wins to get where we want to be. So, it's time to get ready for these huge games.” – Syracuse guard Andrew White on starting their next slate of ACC games against North Carolina

“Coach said enjoy it until midnight tonight, so we’re going to enjoy the win for a little bit and then we’ve got to get ready for that zone.” - North Carolina wing Justin Jackson on preparing for Syracuse following Saturday’s win over No. 9 Florida State


Tar Heels Outlast Seminoles: UNC extended its conference winning streak to four on Saturday with a 96-83 win over No.9 Florida State. In victory, Roy Williams’s team also handed the Seminoles their first loss of the ACC season. Due to early foul trouble for UNC’s three bigs (Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks, and Luke Maye) plus the absence of Tony Bradley, Williams had to rely on a smaller lineup through crucial portions of the game. In one sequence the 66-year old coach had junior wing Theo Pinson playing center. Regardless, North Carolina was able to channel the momentum from a big home crowd into an impressive home performance. Hicks, Jackson, and Joel Berry all topped 22 points in the contest, while Pinson earned the first double-double of his career with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Syracuse Spotlight: The Orange’s 2016-17 season so far has been one of inconsistency. After starting the season 4-0, Jim Boeheim’s team has only won consecutive games once. Their performance in conference play tells a similar story, as Syracuse has yet to play a conference game, win or loss, where the final margin wasn’t in double digits. The lack of close games either way seems to have defined the Orange’s campaign thus far. Where Syracuse shines is in two aspects: passing and long-range shooting. As a team, Syracuse has 307 assists this season, which ranks 29th in the nation, and is shooting 38.7 percent from the three-point line. One thing to note is that both of those stats have noticeably decreased since ACC play began. The Orange are led by senior guard Andrew White, who leads the team in scoring with 15.8 points per game.

Orange’s Limited Lineup: Boeheim’s team is infamous for it’s 2-3 zone, and his lineup is characteristically thin because of it. During ACC play, the Orange have run six or seven men deep on most nights. As a result, guards Andrew White and Tyus Battle have both played all 40 minutes in three of Syracuse’s five ACC games. While the zone helps preserve these players’ energy over the entirety of the game, it still can tend to wear the players out over the course of the season. With a majority of minutes going to just six players, it’s noticeable that it hasn’t had a positive effect on scoring. White and forward Tyler Lydon average a significant amount more minutes than anyone on the roster, but together they only account for 28.8 points per game. For reference, Syracuse averages 75.3 points in conference play, which ranks in the bottom half of the league.

Matchup to Watch: For Syracuse to keep up with UNC in the Dean Dome, the Orange will need to be able to hit the three-point shot early and often. Gone are the days of Trevor Cooney coming to Chapel Hill and lighting up the Tar Heels, but Boeheim still has two great outside options in Lydon and Battle. The freshman Battle is shooting a team-best 44.9 percent from beyond the arc, while Lydon is right behind him at 42.2 percent. White also presents a threat from three-point range, as he attempts almost eight threes a game and converts right under 40 percent of the time. While Battle will be guarded by a Tar Heel perimeter determine, the responsibility for Lydon will fall to Isaiah Hicks. The 6-foot-9 senior faced a similar sharp shooting big man in Wake Forest’s Dinos Mitoglou last week.

Last Meeting: UNC defeated Syracuse, 83-66, in last year’s Final Four in Houston to earn a spot in the national championship game. Brice Johnson and Justin Jackson both led UNC in scoring with 16 points each as the Tar Heels punched their ticket for a date with Villanova.

Series Record: North Carolina leads the all-time series, 8-4. The Tar Heels and the Orange have played a total of five times the last two years thanks to Syracuse’s move to the ACC. Before 2015, the two sides had met only seven times in 58 years.

Projected UNC Starters:
2 Joel Berry (6-0, 195, Jr.) – 16.2 ppg, 4.4 apg
3 Kennedy Meeks (6-10, 260, Sr.) - 12.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg
4 Isaiah Hicks (6-9, 242, Sr.) - 12.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg
44 Justin Jackson (6-8, 210, Jr.) – 17.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg
24 Kenny Williams (6-4, 180, So.) - 7.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg

Top Reserves:
5 Tony Bradley (6-11, 240, Fr.) – 8.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg  (gametime decision: concussion)
1 Theo Pinson (6-6, 211, Jr.) – 4.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg
0 Nate Britt (6-1, 175, Sr.) – 5.4 ppg, 2.7 apg

Projected Syracuse Starters:
3 Andrew White III (6-7, 210, Sr.) – 15.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg
4 John Gillon (6-0, 178, Sr.) – 9.2 ppg, 5.0 apg
12 Taurean Thompson (6-10, 225, Fr.) – 9.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg
20 Tyler Lydon (6-9, 223, So.) – 13.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg
25 Tyus Battle (6-6, 205, Fr.) – 9.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg

Top Reserves:
21 Tyler Roberson (6-8, 226, Sr.) –6.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg
1 Frank Howard (6-5, 205, So.) – 5.9 ppg, 5.4 apg

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