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Tale of the Tape: UNC vs Syracuse

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Heels vs Orange

North Carolina Syracuse
Record 16-4 14-6
ACC Record 6-1 5-2
KenPom Rank 10th 74th
Points per game 79.3 68.4
Adj. Off. Efficiency(Rank) 114.9(17th) 103.5(126th)
Ad. Def. Efficiency(Rank) 92.2(28th) 94.3(52nd)
Tempo(Rank) 69.7(20th) 65.5(163rd)
Offensive eFG% 50.0% 48.0%
Defensive eFG% 42.7% 43.5%
Field Goal % 46.4% 43.8%
3P FG% 31.8% 32.0%
FT% 69.4% 65.1%
Offensive Reb Rate 43.2% 35.2%
Defensive Reb Rate 68.2% 69.4%
TO Rate 17.8% 18.1%
FT Rate 38.3% 35.1%

Syracuse and its zone defense comes to Chapel Hill bringing with it a decent defense. Syracuse is holding teams to a eFG% of 43.5%, 29.3% from three, 43.3% from two, blocking 15.1% of opponents shots and a steal% of 12.4. In ACC play Syracuse is ranked between 2nd and 5th in all those categories. The overall defensive efficiency of 94.2 is 52nd but the Oranges 97.9 in ACC play is 2nd in the league behind Virginia.

UNC happens to be right behind Syracuse in defensive efficiency in ACC play and just ahead of the Orange in overall DE. That could make this game very much a defensive struggle especially given how much a zone can take the Tar Heels out of their preferred tempo. The Tar Heels are 2nd in ACC play in offensive efficiency shooting 50% from inside the arc and 35.4% outside of it. The latter, if it's higher would be helpful against zone, but also exploiting Syracuse being a middle of the road defensive rebounding team. Offensive rebounds tend to come easier against a zone and UNC excels at that though the last two games have not been up to par.

Syracuse has struggled on the offensive end in ACC playing not even cracking 100 in offensive efficiency on average and shooting 40.9% on two point shots. The Orange have improved to 37.3% from three which is always a cause for concern when UNC takes the floor though teams are still shooting just 27.9% against the Heels from beyond the arc. Rakeem Christmas has done most of the heavy lifting for the Orange hitting nearly 60% of shots in ACC play. Undoubtedly, Christmas provides a challenge for UNC's interior defense especially given the penchant for fouls. The Orange have a pair of three point shooters hitting 37% or better with Trevor Cooney at 37.4% and Duke transfer Michael Gbinije going 25-63. In ACC plays Gbinije is shooting 50% at 14-28.

Despite this being a down season for Syracuse, this match-up has some elements of concern for the Tar Heels, ones that would be magnified with poor execution and another less than stellar defensive outing.