With a three-game winning streak under their belt, North Carolina will travel to Syracuse for their lone regular season meeting with the Orange.
The Tar Heels sit at 6-3 in ACC play and are looking for just their second road win of the season.
Syracuse’s identical league record has them tied with North Carolina in the conference standings as they are coming off of a decisive victory over Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
At 13-7 on the year, they pose a threat to the Tar Heels, who are just a 4.5 points favorite.
Winners of four of their last six, the Orange have been playing good basketball and have dropped close contests to ranked opponents Virginia and Miami.
Despite their upward trend, inconsistency has been an issue throughout the season for Jim Boeheim’s team. The Orange fell to Colgate and Bryant in the non-conference slate and have three wins over Notre Dame and Louisville by a combined seven points.
Guard Joe Girard is the leading scorer for Syracuse, averaging a career-high 17.5 points on 38.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc. His 20.8 points during ACC play are tops in the league, as he is the catalyst for their offense.
Judah Mintz (14.9 points) rounds out the backcourt for the Orange, while center Jesse Edwards averages a double-double with 13.9 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.
The aforementioned trio all play 30 minutes or more per game and account for a majority of Syracuse’s points and assists.
Three-point shooting is a strength for the Orange, as their 38 percent success rate during league play ranks third in the ACC. Girard has 60 made threes on the season, one behind Florida State’s Darin Green Jr. for the league lead.
For North Carolina, three-point shooting will also play a factor in the outcome of this game.
With the Syracuse zone bringing about three-point opportunities, there will be an ample amount of chances for them to get in a groove.
Guard R.J. Davis has returned to form from beyond the arc and has made multiple three-point shot attempts in seven of the last eight games.
Pete Nance and D’Marco Dunn are shooting 35 percent and 39.1 percent from beyond the arc, respectively, and could find themselves with open looks as the Tar Heels exploit the zone.
One member of the North Carolina backcourt, Caleb Love, is primed with the perfect opportunity to get back on track and help North Carolina reach their true potential.
At 26.8 percent from beyond the arc, Love has not been his usual self this season and has often times forced shot attempts in an effort to get going. Fortunately for him, those looks will come easier tonight and he can take his shots within the flow of the offense.
With five road contests, two rivalry matchups, and three ranked games in February, tonight is a big opportunity for Love to find his stroke ahead of a tough schedule.
Armando Bacot, who now holds the UNC record for career rebounds and double-doubles, will be tasked with a big matchup against Edwards. Although he may not be as involved with scoring one-on-one down low, his ability to create second-chance opportunities on the glass is crucial.
North Carolina has won 11 of the last 13 games in the series with the Orange, but fell 72-70 in their last visit to the Carrier Dome.