UNC vs. Syracuse: Game preview, info, prediction and more

CHAPEL HILL, NC - FEBRUARY 12: Andrew Platek
CHAPEL HILL, NC - FEBRUARY 12: Andrew Platek /

UNC looks to make it six-straight wins when they go on the road to take on Syracuse

There is under two weeks left in the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season as seeding for the tournament begins to take shape.

For the North Carolina Tar Heels, they currently sit in third place in the conference behind just Duke and Virginia. They are a half game up on Clemson and one-and-a-half games up on Virginia Tech, Louisville and NC State.

A win on Wednesday night would go a long way in UNC capturing a double-bye and more importantly, avoiding Virginia until the ACC championship game by grabbing a two or three seed.

Just weeks ago we were talking about this team possibly missing out on the double-bye and in serious trouble this season. But after rallying off five-straight wins, including three in a five-day span.

With three games left, UNC can also boost their resume for a potential two seed and games in Charlotte on opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament by winning out.

The Orange are trying to add to their tournament resume by getting a win against a Top 10 team.

They enter the game fresh off beating Miami on the road last week and currently sit as a 12 seed and one of the last four in according to Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology.

For Syracuse, they have four games left with three coming against ranked opponents in UNC, Duke and their season-finale vs. Miami.

A win over UNC would certainly improve their seeding and give them a big boost on the resume.

But it won’t be easy.

One Syracuse player to watch….

Guard Tyus Battle has put together a fantastic sophomore season for the Orange in 2017-18.

The 6-foot-6 Battle is averaging 19.9 points per game, to lead all Syracuse players. He’s also averaging 3.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists. Earlier in February, Battle dropped 34 points in a Syracuse win over Wake Forest and followed it up by scoring 17 against NC State and 13 against Miami.

He’s a tough matchup in the backcourt and will likely see Theo Pinson or Kenny Williams on him at times during Wednesday’s game.

Battle isn’t a terrible shooter, making 42 percent of his attempts this season and will beat ya if you leave him open.

Carolina can’t let Battle get hot early.

One UNC player to watch…

We really could choose any of UNC’s starting five going into this game but let’s spotlight Theo Pinson.

The senior is coming off his best game of the season in which he scored 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting including making all six of his free throw attempts. He had seven rebounds and five assists, putting together an impressive performance against Louisville.

Pinson also contributed on the defensive end as well.

The wing is one of UNC’s best defenders, matching up with players in the post and on the perimeter.

Key to the game..


The Tar Heels are one of the best rebounding teams in the country, averaging 43.3 rebounds per game this season. They go up against a Syracuse squad that is averaging 38.0 rebounds per game.

Leading the rebounding charge for ‘Cuse is freshman Oshae Brissett.

The 6-foot-8 Brissett is averaging 9.0 rebounds per game this season, which is 3 more than their next closest average on the team.

UNC has a pair of freshman big men in Garrison Brooks and Sterling Manley who are both averaging close to four rebounds per game this season. The Tar Heels will look to control the boards with the freshmen duo plus Luke Maye.

Winning the rebounding battle will go a long way for a UNC win.

Last meeting..

These two teams last met back in January of 2017 in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels routed the Orange to earn their fifth-straight ACC win.

Senior Isaiah Hicks led the way with 20 points for the Tar Heels and junior Justin Jackson scored 19 in the win. Joel Berry and Kennedy Meeks both finished in double-digits while fellow starter Kenny Williams had just 6 points.

The win was a historic one for head coach Roy Williams.

It was the 800th win of his legendary career as the Tar Heels honored him with a ceremony after the game that included a special pair of Air Jordan shoes gifted by Michael Jordan.

What you need to know…

What? UNC 21-7 (10-5 ACC) vs Syracuse 18-9 (7-7)
When? Wednesday, February 20th at 700 p.m. ET
Where? Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York
TV? ESPN (Beth Mowins and Dan Dakich)
Radio? Tar Heels Sports Network
All-time series? UNC leads 9-4.
Prediction? UNC 79, Syracuse 68