With two games remaining, Syracuse has a common major flaw. Year after year, the Orange struggle to rebound, and this season is no different. SU ranks as the 312th defensive rebounding team in the country. Meanwhile UNC is the top offensive rebounding team in the country.
When Syracuse and UNC played the first time this season, the Tar Heels squeaked out an 81-75 victory, while dominating the Orange on the glass. North Carolina finished with 24 offensive and defensive rebounds. Meanwhile SU finished with 31 total rebounds.
On Monday, Syracuse must play better on the glass to compete with UNC. It also needs Quincy Guerrier to reboot into the player he was earlier in the season. In the Jan. 12 game with UNC, Guerrier led all scorers with 23 points on 9-18 shooting. He also swatted five shots and collected 11 rebounds.
But recently the talented forward has struggled, and hasn’t scored 15 or more points since January. For SU to have a chance at hanging with UNC, Guerrier needs to have a big performance, and he can’t foul out like he did in the first matchup. That’s a huge role to place on the shoulders of one player. But unfortunately for SU, nobody else on the roster has shown that they can battle in the paint like Guerrier.
Maybe Jesse Edwards continues to improve after setting a career high with eight rebounds against Georgia Tech. Regardless, Guerrier needs to be a major factor against the seventh tallest team in the nation.
Unfortunately for SU, UNC’s biggest height advantage is at power forward — which tends to be SU’s smallest position compared to opponents. UNC head coach Roy Williams likes to deploy a couple of 6-foot-10 bigs (Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot) together in the starting lineup. And 6-foot-11 freshman Day’Ron Sharpe is one of the first players off the bench every game. He’s also the second best offensive rebounder in the country, according to Kenpom.
For SU to jumpstart its season heading into the ACC tournament, it needs to solve a major weakness. Maybe Buddy Boeheim, Joe Girard or Alan Griffin can pour on 25 plus to cover up other holes. But the Tar Heels and Orange are polar opposites in roster structure. We’ll see which wins out on Monday: UNC’s bigs, or SU’s guards.