Syracuse at No. 11 North Carolina
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Smith Center, Chapel Hill
Projected starting lineups
North Carolina (16-3, 4-1 ACC)
G Joel Berry 16.2 ppg, 4.4 apg
G Kenny Williams 7.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg
F Justin Jackson 17.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg
F Isaiah Hicks 12.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg
F Kennedy Meeks 12.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg
Syracuse (11-7, 3-2)
G John Gillon 9.2 ppg, 5 apg
G Tyus Battle 9.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg
F Andrew White III 15.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg
F Tyler Lydon 13.8 ppg, 7 rpg
F Taurean Thompson 9.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg
Three things to know
▪ Here comes another zone defense against the Tar Heels.
UNC struggled – to put it mildly – against a zone defense in a loss on Dec. 31 at Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets' that day ran a 1-3-1 that helped limit the Tar Heels to 63 points, their lowest output of the season. Syracuse, as always, plays a 2-3 zone that, at times, has flustered UNC since the Orange joined the ACC. Last year, the Tar Heels got the better of that zone three times, including in an NCAA tournament national semifinal. The first time, at Syracuse, UNC successfully used a high-low game with Brice Johnson and Isaiah Hicks. The Tar Heels could try to replicate that with Hicks and Kennedy Meeks, though Syracuse adjusted to that when the teams played in Chapel Hill early last March.
▪ It's a Final Four rematch … sort of.
When last these teams played, it was in Houston in early April in the Final Four. And so it's a rematch. Or at least as much of a rematch as a college basketball game can be given the transient nature of the sport. Three of UNC's starters on Monday night started against the Orange in the national semifinals. Syracuse's starting lineup at the Smith Center, though, is projected to be completely different than it was against UNC early last April. The Orange lost its top three players and its two returning starters from a season ago – Tyler Roberson and DaJuan Coleman – haven't been starting lately.
▪ It's a rebounding mismatch.
During its 83-66 victory against Syracuse in the national semifinals last season, UNC rebounded 51.6 percent of its missed shots – and unusually high number. That kind of advantage is in play on Monday night, too, given the Orange's inability to limit opponents' offensive rebounding and given the Tar Heels' consistent rebounding success. UNC ranks third nationally, according to kenpom.com, in offensive rebounding percentage. Syracuse, meanwhile, is 301st nationally in defensive rebounding percentage. That's not a good combination of numbers for Syracuse.