It would appear that Roy Williams and his North Carolina squad are starting to heat up at the right time. The Tar Heels easily took care of the Hokies from Virginia Tech on Tuesday night. Led by 20 points from Garrison Brooks, the Heels also got solid performances from Brandon Robinson and Cole Anthony who combined for 27 points, 14 boards and 6 assists.
The two most glaring reasons on the stat sheet for the lopsided score of 78-56 are simple. Virginia Tech shot just 29% from the field while UNC shot 54% from three point land. A simple, but glaring issue like this is exactly how teams end up losing by 20+ points. UNC played well against the Hokies and they’ll look to keep winning when they meet Syracuse on Wednesday night.
Syracuse will be looking for revenge after recently losing to UNC on February 29 by a score of 92-79. The Orange were not particularly sharp in that game only shooting 44% from the field. They also struggled from beyond the arc shooting an underwhelming 6-for-25.
The Orange will look to rely on Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim for the majority of the teams offensive output just as they have all season. Hughes is averaging 19 points per game while Boeheim isn’t far behind averaging 15 points of his own. Unfortunately for Hughes, he’ll be squaring off against one of the best big men in the ACC in Garrison Brooks. It doesn’t get any easier for Boeheim either, as he’ll be battling with two exceptional guards in Cole Anthony and Brandon Robinson.
North Carolina Tar Heels
The argument in favor of North Carolina is essentially the same as yesterday’s pick. Garrison Brooks should be in line to post another big game. In their previous meeting, Brooks had 26 points 14 boards and 4 assists. Meanwhile, star guard Cole Anthony chipped in 25 points of his own en route to the comfortable win.
Not only will Brooks be able to score against the undersized Hughes, but between him and Bacot, they should be able to win the rebounding battle by a significant margin. And once again, it will be extremely important for the Tarheels to not let Syracuse have any second-chance opportunities.
Obvioulsy, the Heels will be playing on short rest but that’s the real beauty of having so many capable scorers. Between Brooks, Anthony and Robinson, even if one has a down night the other two should be able to pick up the slack.
This Syracuse team goes as the pair of Hughes and Boeheim go. If both Hughes and Boeheim have good games, generally the Orange are going to have a great chance to win. In this case however, that may be easier said than done. In their previous meeting Hughes and Boeheim combined for 41 points but only 4 rebounds and 5 assists.
Hughes could struggle mightily this time around with Brooks and Bacot both protecting the rim as well as playing solid defense on the Syracuse big men who may find things to be tough sledding.
Buddy Boheim will also have his hands full with two of top guards in the league, Cole Anthony and Brandon Robinson. In the previous meeting, Anthony went off for 25-points. The Orange may find themselves having to choose between slowing down Anthony or Robinson.
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North Carolina vs. Syracuse Betting Line & Pick
Oddsmakers have opened UNC as a 2 point favorite, but that number will probably incur some movement before tip off. The total has been set at 148.
This game seems to be pretty clear cut. North Carolina is playing a de facto home game as the tournament is being held in Greensnboro. Now that UNC is back to full strength, Syracuse doesn’t have nearly enough defense to slow down Brooks, Robinson, Anthony and Bacot.
The Tarheels not only have more scorers, but they will win the battle of the boards convincingly just as they did during the regular season match-up. Take everything into account and the only logical conclusion is to lay the 2 points with confidence and ride the Tarheels to a second straight W.
Pick: North Carolina -2
*Odds provided by VegasInsider