Scouting North Carolina

Syracuse welcomes North Carolina to the Carrier Dome for an ACC battle on Saturday. previews the matchup by taking a look at the Tar Heels inside.

Syracuse returns home to face an inconsistent North Carolina that has not played up to its talent level.


Marcus Paige is the engine that makes the Tar Heels go. When he plays well, North Carolina can play with anyone. When he struggles, they can be beat by anyone. This is evidenced by their losses to Wake Forest and Miami. He went a combined 5-27 from the floor in those games and turned it over six times.

Earlier in the season, he scored 32 points in an upset win over Louisville. He scored 23 in a win over Kentucky. He is a quick guard who stands at 6-foot-1. Paige has a decent outside shooter, but forces the issues from deep at times. On the season he is shooting 35% from the three-point line. He is an exceptional free throw shooter at nearly 92%. Paige is extremely athletic and has a versatile game, he just struggles with consistency.

Starting alongside Paige in the backcourt is Nate Britt, who is smaller at 5-foot-11. He has struggled shooting the ball this season, and turns it over a bit too much. Britt has only scored in double figures three times this season, and is shooting 37% from the floor. He is more of a slashing, penetrating guard having only attempted six three pointers this through 15 games.

Leslie McDonald is the primary backup in the backcourt. He averages 11 points per game, but struggles shooting at 36% from the floor. McDonald forces shots from beyond the arc at times, and doesn't offer much in the way of rebounding or passing. He is a solid defender as well.


James Michael McAdoo is the best frontcourt player for North Carolina. He is a solid player on both ends of the floor, but is still viewed as a disappointment. McAdoo has not taken that step from good to great. Still, he averages 14 points, six rebounds, one block and nearly two steals per game while shooting over 45% from the floor.

McAdoo is not an outside threat, having attempted only eight three pointers over his three year career. At 6-foot-9, McAdoo is a very athletic, big body who is a skilled offensive player.

Joel James starts up front as well as a 6-foot-10, 280-pound load in the middle who takes up a lot of space. However, he is not an overly skilled defender and only plays about 12 minutes per game. He is an average offensive player and rebounder, despite his size.

J.P. Tokoto starts on the wing and does a little bit of everything for the Tar Heels. He can score a little bit with the mid-range jumper or attacking the rim. Tokoto is a solid rebounder for his 6-foot-5 frame, and is a skilled passer as well. He is also a strong defender averaging a block and steal per game.

Brice Johnson comes off the bench and plays about 20 minutes per game. He is a strong defender and gives the Tar Hells a good low-post scoring threat as well averaging 11 points per game with seven boards.

True freshman Kennedy Meeks is also part of the rotation, and can score in the low-post. Meeks is a natural rebounder and has a big 6-foot-9, 290 pound frame. Isaiah Hicks will also get a few minutes, but is not a huge part of the Tar Heels' attack.

Defensive System

North Carolina plays primarily man and try to force tempo with an aggressive style. They are solid at forcing turnovers and are great in transition. They will mix things up a bit from time to time with a full court press.

Team Stats

The Tar Heels are shooting just 31.5% from beyond the arc as a team, but 45.5% from the floor overall. They are 11th in the country at 42.1 rebounds per game.

Final Thoughts

North Carolina has size and talent, but often play less than the sum of their parts. If they play up to their talent level, as they did against Michigan State and Louisville earlier this season, they could give the Orange a run for their money. If they play like they have recently, however, Syracuse should control this one.

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