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#6 UNC vs #24 Syracuse

What: Coaches vs Cancer Championship
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
When: Friday, November 20th, 7:00 PM(allegedly)
Records: UNC 4-0; Syracuse 3-0

Wait, they have to play again tonight?

Talk about testing a young team. Not only does UNC get a tough game or two tough games in New York but they play them less than 24 hours apart. Gotta love this schedule! Of course no one is complaining and Syracuse is caught in the same boat. In some ways it is probably better this way and the less seasoned Tar Heels get a tasted of what tournament play can be like since this is how the ACC Tournament in particular rolls.

So what is UNC facing tonight? A Syracuse team that blew past Cal with ease. A couple of caveats. (1) I think Cal is overrated. (2) Cal was playing without their 2nd leading scorer Theo Robertson. That is not to say Syracuse is not a very good team, they are and this stands to be a tougher test than even OSU offered UNC last night. Syracuse will play zone and since that is all Jim Boeheim teams play, you can expect they will be darn good at it. The Orangemen are probably a tick bigger in terms of size than OSU and like OSU has plenty of versatile players. Their offense production is very similar to UNC's with four guys average between 10 and 14 ppg as well as a couple of others just below double figures on average. As a team they shoot 36% from three point range and so far this season have taken roughly 22 three point attempts per game. Overall I expect Syracuse to be better on both ends of the floor than OSU was on Thursday night putting the pressure on the Heels to play a cleaner game.

UNC should still enjoy a size advantage at most positions and depth on the interior. UNC is a slightly better rebounding team which came in very handy against the Buckeyes considering the number of missed shots on the court last night. I am going to refrain from talking about the turnovers because that is a given. The reason the turnovers were talked about so readily last night was in part because Roy Williams focused on it and also at the time the Heels had floated above the magical 20 turnovers per game mark which leads to mass hysteria and a terrible rash on right above your ankles. Of course it will be discussed tonight even though UNC is now down to 19.5 turnovers per game and Syracuse is not much better committing 18.7 miscues per contest themselves. So if we can get into a football mindset here, UNC's best bet is to not only reduced their own turnovers but make certain the Orangemen kept their average in this regard fairly high.

Oh and Syracuse sucks at the foul line to the tune of 57% as a team and only two players above 70% from the charity stripe. For all of the perceived issues UNC has with FT shooting, 71% overall isn't horrid just not what it was when you had four guys all 80% or better. The FT shooting could end up being a huge deal because for some reason I expect a lot of fouls. Maybe it is the way UNC-OSU was called. Maybe it has something to do with playing a Big East team like Syracuse who trends toward physical play. Or maybe I am getting paranoid. I expect a lot of fouls. And for some reason I am getting a decent vibe about John Henson having a coming out party in this one but that could be from eating too much pecan pie at the office Thanksgiving potluck today.

UNC 82 Syracuse 75