Whatever happens on the second day of Elite Eight basketball, two ACC teams will move on to the Final Four and play each other. Syracuse open the day facing number one seed Virginia, followed by the other number one team, North Carolina, taking on Notre Dame.
Unlike most NCAA Tournament games, we can actually look back at this season and see how things worked out between the sides: Syracuse lost to Virginia 73-65 in their sole regular season game in Charlottesville, while North Carolina lost their visit to South Bend before crushing the Fighting Irish 78-47 in the ACC Tournament semifinal.
#10 Syracuse vs #1 Virginia: Syracuse have embraced the villain role in this tournament. A #10 seed who no one views as an underdog, a team many think didn’t have the CV to merit them a place in it. But they made it in, play their usual brand of ugly, defensive, chason inducing basketball and beat Dayton, Middle Tennessee and even Gonzaga on their way to the Elite Eight. Is this where it ends? Maybe. Virginia don’t mind playing that kind of style, and they have more talent, with Anthony Gill and Malcolm Brogdon. Syracuse do have less pressure on them (Virginia are due a Final Four under Tony Bennett), but it won’t go well for them if Trevor Cooney and Tyler Lydon don’t stretch the floor early on. Mike Tobey and Anthony Gill will attack the rim constantly. Syracuse need to find a way to prevent it, although their 2-3 zone usually doesn’t work vs the Cavaliers.
#6 Notre Dame vs #1 North Carolina: Defense, despite the two teams being possibly the best in the country with the ball, will matter. Notre Dame struggle on that end, and their Michigan and Wisconsin results (holding both teams to a combined 119 points) might not be truthful agaisnt a talented, big and deep team as the Tar Heels. But as good as North Carolina can be offensively, their ability to hold six consecutive opponents, including the Fighting Irish, to 44.4% from the field or worse, allowing them winning by 16.7 points in the tournament so far. Brice Johnson might have a more difficult time than usual against Zach Auguste, but if North Carolina get going in transition with another hot day for Marcus Paige, Notre Dame will probably find it difficult to keep up.