5th ranked North Carolina hosts Syracuse in a crucial game on Tuesday at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
An Elite Team
Being an elite team is no longer a question for the North Carolina Tar Heels. After an upset win over then #1 Duke, the Tar Heels defeated then 16th seeded Florida State 77-59 last Saturday to move up to 12-2 in conference play and earn a share of the ACC lead with Duke and Virginia. This marks the 11th time in Roy Williams’ 16 years at UNC that his team has won at least 12 games in ACC conference play.
Cameron Johnson leads the Tar Heels in scoring and steals at 16.7 points and 1.3 steals per game. Coby White leads the team in passing with 4.2 assists while also scoring 15.2 points per game. Luke Maye is just a shade under a double-double with 15.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game for UNC.
The Tar Heels are averaging 87.1 points per game of offense. They are also averaging 19.3 assists per game and grabbing 42.8 rebounds per game this season. However, North Carolina is south in the nation in scoring defense as it is ranked 217th overall at 72.7 points per game allowed.
First Game Since Accident
The Orange fell 65-75 at home to Duke in an emotional game at the Carrier Dome last Saturday night. That game was the first since Wednesday fatal car accident involving Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim which left one person dead. This game is the lone meeting between Syracuse and UNC this season although the Orange will play one more game in North Carolina this coming Saturday against Wake Forest.
Tyus Battle is Syracuse’s chief scorer at 17.1 points per game. Forwards Elijah Hughes and Oshae Brissett are scoring 13.7 and 13.0 points per game, respectively. Frank Howard leads the Orange with 1.6 steals while also scoring 8.1 points per game. Big man Paschal Chukwu is the top shot blocker with 1.7 swats per contest.
The Orange are a low-scoring team at just 69.8 points per game scored but they are ranked 24th in the nation in terms of scoring defense at 64.1 opponent points allowed per game. Syracuse is averaging only 12.2 assists per game and are hauling down a total of 35.7 rebounds per contest.
Syracuse is 6-4 SU in its last 10 games played. The Orange are 2-2 SU in their last four games on the road. North Carolina is 9-1 SU in its last 10 games played. The Tar Heels are 4-1 SU in their last five home games. Head to head, the Tar Heels are 7-2 SU in their last nine meetings against the Orange.
The Tar Heels must be feeling good about themselves after back to back wins over ranked teams. Although they beat Duke without Zion Williamson, the Tar Heels followed up that win with a masterful conquest of the former 16th seed Florida State. The Tar Heels defense was locked in against the Seminoles who were held to 30.5% field goal shooting the whole game.
The Orange are limiting their opponents to 31.0% shooting from behind the three point arc. That’s going to be a problem for the Tar Heels who have shot just 9-40 from three ball in their last two games played. But while Syracuse does have the defense to make the stops in this game, they also need to move the ball better and more importantly, make their shots in order to win this game.
The Orange haven’t reached the 70-point mark in any of their six games played this month. Tyus Battle is just 11-40 from the floor in his last three games played while Elijah Hughes is shooting 10-33 during the same period. If the Orange want to win, their best scorers should break out of their slump. The Tar Heels have been winning big at home and given the offensive struggles of the Orange.
I’m picking North Carolina to beat Syracuse on 2/26/19.
Other Bets To Make
The Orange are 6-4 ATS in their last 10 games played. Syracuse is 2-2 ATS in its last four road games played. The Tar Heels are 8-2 SU in their last 10 games played. North Carolina is 3-2 SU in its last five games at home. Head to head, North Carolina is 3-1 ATS in their last four games against Syracuse.
Odds from betonline.ag as of 2/26/19
Syracuse is 5-0 in its last five games after an ATS loss, 5-2 ATS in their last seven road games and 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games overall. North Carolina is 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games against the ACC and also 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games played. The favorite is 5-2-1 in the last eight games betweens these two teams and the Tar Heels are 3-1-1 ATS in their last five home games against the Orange. North Carolina has won its last five games by an average winning margin of 13.4 points per game. I expect the Tar Heels to win at home and cover the spread.
Prediction: North Carolina -12
The total has gone under in seven out of the last 10 games played by the Orange. Syracuse has seen the total go under in three out of their last four road games. The total has gone under in six out of the last 10 games played by the Tar Heels. The over is 3-2 in the last five home games played by North Carolina. Head to head, the over is 5-4 in the last nine meetings between Syracuse and North Carolina.
O 147 -115
U 147 -115
Odds from betonline.ag as of 2/26/19
The under is 4-0 in the last four games played by Syracuse and also 4-0 in the last four games played by North Carolina. Syracuse is having problems with their offense as they have shot just 37.9% from the floor in their last five outings. Meanwhile, North Carolina has held its opponents to 38.9% field goal shooting in their last five games played. I like those field goal numbers to stay that way with UNC handcuffing a struggling Syracuse offense.
Prediction: Under 147