Game 15: North Carolina (11-5, 1-0) vs. Syracuse (11-3, 1-0)
All-time series: North Carolina leads 3-2
Date: Thursday, Jan. 7th
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: Carmichael Arena (Chapel Hill, NC)
The Syracuse Lady Orange have won five straight games, including a thumping to then 12th ranked Duke to open ACC play on Sunday. The Orange face their first road test of the conference season when they make the trip down to Tobacco Road to take on North Carolina. Last time out, head coach Quentin Hillsman recorded his 200th victory with the Orange. Hillsman's team has not faired well on the road this season, compiling a 1-2 record, defeating Rhode Island in the season opener and losing at Tennessee and Maryland.
But the Tar Heels are in the midst of a down year, losing to the likes of Oregon, Oklahoma State, Northwestern, Pacific and little known Gardner-Webb. Sylvia Hatchell's team has gotten hot recently, winning their last five contests including a 72-56 victory over Clemson to open the conference season. That victory notched Hatchell's 700th win with the Tar Heels.
Syracuse has the momentum in the series, winning the last two matchups including a 61-56 victory last season in the Carrier Dome.
Three Things to Watch
1) Size Advange
There is a distinct advantage in the middle for the Orange with Briana Day and her sister Bria both standing at 6-4. The Tar Heels have no one that can matchup with them physically. Briana has been on a tear as of late, posting back-to-back double doubles last week. The ball will need to find its way into her hands to give the Orange an advantage. Playing only about 20 minutes from their Raleigh, NC home, it will be a little like a home game on the road for the Day sisters and freshman Jade Phillips, also a Raleigh native.
2) Outside Shooting
The Orange love to let it fly from outside with senior Brianna Butler leading all active Division 1 players in career three-pointers as well as being Syracuse's all-time leader in the category. Maggie Morrison found her stroke against the Blue Devils connecting on seven shots from beyond the arc in rout to a career-high 25 points. The Tar Heels are a similar team in that respect with multiple players who can get hot from outside. Over her last seven games, Tar Heels guard Stephanie Watts has hit 19 three-pointers. She'll have to be someone the Orange keep an eye on from outside.
3) Point Guard Play
Alexis Peterson has been showing off recently at the point, dishing out assists with ease, including a career-high 13 against Duke. But North Carolina has a point guard that's no slouch herself in Jamie Cherry. It should be a show between these two who can find the open teammate or score almost at will. Whoever wins this battle will probably be leading their team to victory.