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Syracuse - North Carolina ACC Tournament Round 2 Preview

Syracuse students agree: Beating UNC would make Syracuse a lock.
Syracuse did what they had to do last night in beating Wake Forest. Now they have a bit of a tougher task to take on UNC in the 2nd round. Obviously UNC is coming in without playing a game the night before, playing ten players in general. Syracuse obviously plays mostly five, sometimes up to seven players. And on a night's rest, that may be an issue. And I want to emphasis MAY, because these kids are young, they got rest, and it didn't seem to bother Gerry McNamara in 2006, along with a bunch of other examples. Young kids can recover quickly. So in general I don't think that will be much of a factor. In general, I think that kind of thinking is along the lines of saying Syracuse doesn't play a tough out of conference schedule. It's old thinking that isn't really true these days. Either way, Syracuse is in a good place in terms of solid three point defense, and Chukwu especially stepped up and defended the line when he needed to head out from the paint due to the rotation. But Chukwu needs to get his hands up when players are inside, and the main issue was UNC could basically get a two point basket anytime they wanted for most of the game. If Chukwu can stay out of foul trouble, and earn blocks, Syracuse could very well pull the upset. Syracuse actually managed to keep the rebounding margin within four in their only other meeting this season, and they had the game tied with about three minutes to go. If Syracuse can dig deep and limit easy buckets in the paint from UNC, Syracuse has a real shot at the upset here. With the coming out party of Dolezaj and Chukwu last night, in theory, the UNC defense will have to actually defend against those two, which should allow Howard, Battle, and Brissett to get slightly better looks at the basket. And while it is clear that UNC is in the Tournament, Syracuse needs to win to get the lock of a bid. Syracuse has everything to play for, and UNC doesn't. And the fact that Syracuse had it close in the last meeting. If Syracuse can get some big shots, and contributions from Dolezaj and Chukwu in this game (any offense from the Center spot helps for Syracuse), and they keep the rebounding close, I like Syracuse in this game. If Syracuse can stop the easy buckets inside, and not turn the ball over the 18 times they did in the earlier game, I think they'll advance in more ways than one. I'm going to take a flyer and pick Syracuse to beat UNC by 5. This game is available at around 9:00pm (depending on the ending of the first game), on ESPN 2 / WatchESPN. Both John and I are in the home office again. If you're in Brooklyn tonight, enjoy it. GO ORANGE!

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