All-time series: North Carolina leads 6-4
Date: Monday, February 29th
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: Dean E. Smith Center (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
North Carolina enters the Big Monday matchup with Syracuse as one of the nation's top teams. Sitting atop the ACC at 12-4, the Tar Heels control their own destiny in regards to the regular season Atlantic Coast Conference title. After hosting the Orange on Monday, UNC will travel to Duke this Saturday.
Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks, all future NBA players, lead the Tar Heels. That big-three is arguably one of the deadliest in college basketball. Paige is a precise 3-point shooter, while Johnson and Meeks score, dish out assists and control the glass virtually every game.
Johnson, who arguably the best player in the league, leads UNC with just under 17 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Sophomore forward Justin Jackson is second on the team in scoring with 12.4 points per game. Carolina has four players averaging double figures in points, while as a team, the Heels' shoot 48 percent from the floor.
Things to watch:
1. Limit big runs: The Dean Dome is an incredibly tough place to play, especially when Carolina is good, which they are. The Orange held their own in Jim Boeheim's return from suspension in the first matchup of the season, but fell apart late due to poor defense. Offensively, they were efficient. On Monday, Syracuse has to limit big runs by the Tar Heels. If the Orange find itself down big, early, it will be a tall mountain to climb.
2. Will Roberson show up?: Syracuse fans are still waiting to see Tyler Roberson's full potential, and time may be running out. Boeheim benched Roberson during Saturday's victory over NC State. The junior played a season-low 14 minutes and scored four points. Despite his recent struggles, Tyler has shown up on the big stage before, and you shouldn't be surprised if it happens again. Against Duke at Cameron earlier this season, Roberson had 14 points and 20 rebounds, a career-high. Will he show up tomorrow?
3. Cooney's struggles: Its no secret that Trevor Cooney has struggled recently. He scored five points on senior day, and only three against Pittsburgh a week prior. In those two games, Cooney was 2-for-17 from the field, 1-of-13 from 3-point range. We've seen slumping Cooney before, but Syracuse will need a scoring Cooney on Monday in order to have a chance. Michael Gbinije carried the Orange with 34 points on Saturday, but he won't be able to at North Carolina on Monday.