North Carolina vs. Syracuse preditions and bold picks for Saturday’s Final Four matchup.
History has been made for the Syracuse Orange, becoming the first-ever 10-seed to advance to the Final Four. It’s a remarkable feat for a team that many pegged unworthy of even participating in the tournament to begin with. This group has proven that doubting Jim Boeheim is never a smart idea.
Syracuse’s famous 2-3 zone defense has been a key factor in its tourney success, but North Carolina is another type of monster compared the teams the Orange have faced so far.
In its four NCAA Tournament victories, the Tar Heels have won every game by a double-digit point differential, handily beating Florida Gulf Coast, Providence, Indiana, and Notre Dame. That’s no easy path to the Final Four, but the Heels have managed to make it look like a walk in the park.
The Orange, on the other hand, have had to overcome great odds in their past two victories over Gonzaga and Virginia. Syracuse trailed throughout the heavy majority of each matchup before going on a late, jaw-dropping run to win both in the closing minutes.
But how long can a trend like that continue? If the Orange dig themselves into a deep hole in the first half against a squad led by Roy Williams, the possibility of another miracle comeback is near impossible. North Carolina has looked virtually unstoppable in the tournament so far, and the Heels have already defeated Syracuse twice this season. When looking at it on paper, Cuse is no match for North Carolina.
But this is March. Syracuse is where they are for a reason, and what’s on paper becomes seemingly irrelevant at this point. The Orange continue to flaunt the glass slipper, but it’s a familiar ACC foe that may send Cinderella home early before the clock strikes midnight.
With tip time approaching, here are the North Carolina vs. Syracuse predictions and bold picks from the Campus Insiders crew.
Why are they still playing this thing? It’s over. North Carolina has this won. The NCAA Tournament model should be blown up if the ninth-best team in the ACC is playing in my 2016 National Championship, but Syracuse is about to be treated very badly. The Tar Heels are way-too-deep with future NBA bench players.
In its wins over Gonzaga and Virginia, the Orange started off the game by digging themselves into two humongous holes, only to somehow catapult out in the end. If they follow that same path against North Carolina, that catapult will be no more. The Orange can’t afford to fall into an early hole, but they will, and North Carolina will win it in a blowout.
Brice Johnson will continue to be the man among boys he has been all season, but Michael Gbinije will take over on offense while Jim Boeheim dials up some presses to match with the dreaded zone. The Orange will win a close one.
It’s been a fun ride, Syracuse, but North Carolina grabs this one by the horns right out of the gate for a double-digit lead at halftime. The Tar Heels continue to pound in the second half, winning by more than 20.
North Carolina goes 10-for-12 from beyond the arc, and the game is over in the first 20 minutes.