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UNC vs. Syracuse: Three Things to Watch

Senior Night and another must-win.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 26 North Carolina at NC State Photo by Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It is Senior Night tomorrow at the Smith Center, and the North Carolina Tar Heels need another win to solidify their NCAA Tournament hopes. After taking care of business on Saturday, can Carolina buck their trend of laying an egg after a solid victory?

When Syracuse comes to town, here are three things to watch during the final home game of the season.

Is Another Bacot Hot Streak Coming?

Let’s face it: Armando Bacot is having a First Team All-ACC season. He has just five single-digit scoring efforts this season. Sure, he had a pair of 12-point, 15-rebound games after the loss to Pitt. But the 28-point, 18-rebound performance against NC State was on another level.

The hope is Bacot turns that stellar performance into a hot streak. And it is the perfect time of the year for UNC’s best player to take it up a notch.

Leaky Black and Puff Johnson

Leaky Black suffered a hyperextended right knee in the first half against NC State. After the game head coach Hubert Davis said there was no structural damage. Expect Black to have limited minutes versus Syracuse as a precautionary measure.

Puff Johnson stepped up for the injured Black in a big way. Johnson scored a career-high 16 points while logging 29 minutes versus NC State. His point total was more than any game for Black this season.

With Black having limited minutes tomorrow, can Johnson take advantage of the opportunity? Everyone knows about Black’s defensive prowess, and there is Johnson’s potential as a scorer. These two might not be straight swaps, but an increase in minutes for Johnson is something to watch moving forward.

The Zone

Against certain opponents, there are characteristics that always stick out. Earlier in the season, Carolina took down Tony Bennett’s pack line defense. Adjustments in the second half took UNC to a sizable victory over a defensive scheme that gave has given the team fits in recent years.

The Jimmy Boeheim zone will be on display tomorrow night. Needless to say, the Tar Heels have not seen this type of zone this season. Since Syracuse joined the ACC, UNC has won 10 of 13, including nine in a row.

Roy Williams and his teams handled the Orange zone. How will Davis’ Tar Heels deal with the zone?