UNC heads to Brooklyn to take on Syracuse in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament
The North Carolina Tar Heels really aren’t used to playing on Wednesday night in the annual Atlantic Coast Conference. UNC hasn’t played in the second round of the tournament since 2015 when they were the No. 5 seed.
In each of the previous three tournaments, the Tar Heels have earned a double-bye and then reached the finals in two of those seasons.
This year UNC enters the tournament as the No. 6 seed and will play the final game of Wednesday’s session. After Tuesday’s games, the Tar Heels now know their opponent.
The Syracuse Orange defeated Wake Forest on Tuesday night 73-64, controlling the game for the entire way to earn a trip to the second round and a date with UNC. The two teams met two weeks ago in the Carrier Dome with UNC earning a hard-fought victory.
In that first and only meeting of the season, UNC held a double-digit lead at halftime but had to fight off a late ‘Cuse run. The Orange even tied the game at 74 with 3:09 left, going on a 6-0 run.
But Joel Berry scored the final four points of the game to seal a 78-74 victory.
That win put UNC in great shape for a double-bye and was the sixth-straight win for them. It would also be their last in conference play as the Tar Heels lost to Miami and Duke to close out the season.
Now they enter the tournament hoping to put together four-straight wins and claim the ACC Tournament Championship. It would also help them build some momentum and improve their NCAA Tournament seeding.
For Syracuse, they were on the bubble going into the ACC Tournament as one of Joe Lunardi’s “First Four Out” in his latest Bracketology. A win over the Tar Heels tomorrow night would certainly boost their resume.
Here’s what you need to know about Wednesday’s game:
One Syracuse player to watch…
Freshman Oshae Brissett posted a double-double in the last meeting between the two teams and was a problem for the Tar Heels on the boards. He could very well have another big game again on Wednesday.
The 6-foot-8 Brissett was a rebound shy of a double-double in the win over Wake Forest, finishing the game with 10 points and 9 rebounds. He’s been the Orange’s top rebounder all season long averaging 8.7 per game.
He could be a tough challenge to keep off the boards for the Tar Heels and will see matchups against Luke Maye, Garrison Brooks, Sterling Manley and at times even Theo Pinson.
One UNC player to watch…
We have to go with UNC’s senior leader Joel Berry.
The point guard is coming off one of his worst games of the year, scoring just six points in Saturday’s loss to Duke. Berry took full blame for the lost and said he wasn’t playing like himself.
We are entering the final games of Berry’s career at UNC and he needs to show up big time for the Tar Heels to make another big run. Berry finished the previous meeting against the Orange with 18 points but shot just 4-of-12 from the three-point line.
If Berry has a big game, UNC should come out with the win.
Key to the game..
Getting more from the starters.
Can UNC break through Syracuse’s zone on the offensive side? They didn’t really struggle to do so in the first meeting and found a way to get to the basket for some early points. Berry, Pinson and even the freshman Manley had good games on the offensive end. UNC will need more production from the rest of their starters.
Luke Maye, Kenny Williams, and Cam Johnson combined for just 20 points in the last meeting.
If UNC wants a W on Wednesday, it will need better production from that trio.
Last time they met….
As we touched on earlier, the Tar Heels won the only meeting between these two teams in the regular season.
A win by UNC on Wednesday would likely end any hope Syracuse had for the NCAA Tournament and help the Tar Heels push towards that No. 2 seed.
in the previous meeting, senior Theo Pinson scored a career-high 23 points including going 2-for-2 from the three-point line. Pinson was all over the court for the Tar Heels finishing with seven assists, six rebounds ,and four steals.
Pinson could be the X-Factor again on Wednesday.
What you need to know…
What? Syracuse 20-12 (1-0 ACC Tournament) vs. UNC 22-9 (0-0 ACC Tournament)
When? Wednesday, March 6th at 9 p.m. ET
Where? Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York
Radio? Tar Heel Sports Network
All-Time series? UNC leads 11-4. (First meeting in ACC Tournament)
Prediction? UNC 72, Syracuse 69