Syracuse will try to snap a two-game losing streak when it hosts North Carolina on Monday, Mar. 1 at 7:00 p.m. (TV: ESPN). Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Saugat Sen gives his predictions below.
Season Record: 5-1
Fresh off of his 900th win as a head coach, Roy Williams will bring his Tar Heels to the Dome to go up against his fellow 900+ win coach, Jim Boeheim. The two teams however, appear to be heading in the opposite directions at this point of the season.
After starting the season 5-4, North Carolina has went 10-4 since then. It is currently 15-8, having won three of its last four games, and is considered to be in the NCAA Tournament.
The Orange, on the other hand, has lost two straight and are likely only able to make the NCAA Tournament with a deep ACC Tournament run. When these two teams met early this January, the Tar Heels edged SU, 81-75, despite 23 points and 11 rebounds from Quincy Guerrier.
UNC is led by sophomore forward Armando Bascot, who averages 11.2 per game and has the second best field goal shooter in the conference (61.9%). Without a big presence for the Orange in the middle of the zone, Bascot will likely use all of his 6’10”, 240 pound frame to bully his way to another double-double.
To the thrill of Orange fans, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has played freshman guard Kadary Richmond as many minutes as starting guard Joe Girard III in the last five games. While the two have each averaged 7.6 points during that span, Richmond has gotten there taking seven fewer shots and has averaged 1.0 more assists per game than Girard.
Boeheim has also appeared to have softened his stance on playing his bench, with Robert Braswell and Jesse Edwards getting more minutes as of late.
Prior to SU’s first game against North Carolina, Braswell didn’t see the floor for more than 10 minutes for seven straight games. Since then, he has averaged almost 15 minutes a game.
Similarly, Edwards has averaged less than three mins a game, but played 23 minutes against Miami and also played 23 minutes in Syracuse’s loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday. He combined to score 14 points and 14 rebounds in total in those two games.
Despite the recent changes, it appears to be too little, too late to develop the young Orange bench for this season. I expect North Carolina to stay hot and for Roy Williams to gain one more game against the 900+ total of his friend Jim Boeheim, as UNC wins 82-71.