Syracuse vs North Carolina prediction: College basketball odds, picks, best bets for Saturday
Syracuse and North Carolina both whipped off conference victories Wednesday, with the Orange shutting down Quinten Post and Boston College and the Tar Heels doing the same to DJ Burns and North Carolina State.
The Heels are now 4-0 in ACC play, and I think they have national title upside.
Its tougher to value the Orange.
They have no bad losses but are now 2-2 in ACC play. Despite having an elite point guard in Judah Mintz, Syracuses offense hasnt gotten off the ground.
But I think the Orange can score here and I know the Heels will get theirs.
Syracuse vs. North Carolina prediction
(12 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Now that Jim Boeheim is gone, Adrian Autry has transformed the Orange into a guard-heavy, up-tempo, rim-running offense.
They havent been overly efficient, but theyve been good at the rim (1.22 PPP, 55th nationally), and watching the new-look style has been a breath of fresh air in central New York.
I think the Orange can get some points at the rim Saturday.
The Heels boast a solid interior defense, and Armando Bacot is still an elite post-up and rim protector.
However, North Carolina ranks only 94th nationally in at-the-rim PPP allowed (1.10), which is relatively good but still gives Syracuse an advantage.
Syracuse guard Judah Mintz shoots against Boston College. Getty ImagesAdditionally, the Orange use a good amount of off-ball screen secondary actions to pop open shooters and thats where Syracuse has the biggest advantage. The Heels rank 351st nationally in off-ball screen PPP allowed (1.28), and theyve been allowing plenty of opportunities on those sets.
While optimistic, Im hesitant to say Syracuse will have consistent offensive success here. Itll take good game-planning from Autry and even better execution from Mintz.
But Im very confident that North Carolina will score in bunches Saturday.
Freshman point guard Elliot Cadeau has improved immensely since his debut, now giving the Heels three dangerous, athletic guards between him, RJ Davis and Cormac Ryan.
Davis has been volcanic with his dribble-drive and shot creation, while Ryan is doing all the little things right (91% from the charity stripe).
Behind those three, the Heels play as expected. They run the floor and use their guards to dump the ball down low to Bacot in the post.
Syracuse cant stop the dribble (306th nationally in ball-screen PPP allowed, 1.02). The Orange struggle against post-up sets (280th in post-up PPP allowed, .84). They struggle to protect the rim (270th in at-the-rim PPP allowed, 1.18) and the paint (36 paint points per game allowed, 13th percentile).
Aside from Mintz, I dont think Syracuses backcourt can contain North Carolinas. And while Maliq Brown has been a good post-up defender, hes 3 inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter than Bacot.
Altogether, I think Syracuse can score relatively efficiently if it plays smart, and I know North Carolinas offense will score. The Heels are a supernova offense, scoring at will, and they have a great matchup here.
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So, I think the total is too low, and Im firing away on Over 150. ShotQuality projects the total closer to 160, so theres value in this line.
The past two games between these two in Chapel Hill have soared over the total, with North Carolina dropping over 80 points in each contest.
The Heels boast a whopping 125.5 Offensive Rating at home this year, comparEd to 102.4 on the road, so the home-court advantage provides a huge boost to the squad — especially Cadeau, as the freshman probably likes the comfy confines of the Dean E. Smith Center.
Syracuse vs. North Carolina pick
Over 157.5 or better (-110, BetMGM)
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