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5 Reasons North Carolina Will Upset Syracuse

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5 Reasons North Carolina Will Upset Syracuse

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

It seems basically impossible to define this year's edition of the North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team after losing five games to unranked teams — most recently to Miami at home — and handling three ranked teams while looking like a superior team in all of those games.

Coach Roy Williams can not even even define what is going on in Chapel Hill. What does stick out is poor defense in the halfcourt and an offense that seems to settle for guarded shots without any ball movement. This is completely different looking than what the Heels did against Louisville, Michigan State and Kentucky earlier this season.

The Tar Heels did get Leslie McDonald back from ineligibility, but also lost P.J. Hairston from the team. At first, it looked like North Carolina would move on from Hairston's departure and still be a formidable team that could compete for an ACC crown. Now, the Tar Heels look like a team that could be fighting for a chance to be selected into the NCAA tournament.

North Carolina gets its biggest test of the season when it travels to the Carrier Dome to take on No. 2 and undefeated Syracuse this weekend. The Orange have had some close games this season, but the record is still unblemished and the crowd will definitely be amped for the Heel's first appearance in Syracuse as an ACC opponent.

North Carolina needs to play well to get some positive momentum going, but this will not be easy. If UNC falls to 0-3 in the conference after Saturday, it could be a very long conference season in Chapel Hill.

Gregory T. Philson is an ACC college basketball writer at Follow him on Twitter @GTPhilson, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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5. North Carolina Plays To Compete

Ellen Ozier-USA TODAY Sports

This may be so easy to say, but it is also true. North Carolina has not lost a game this season as they were supposed to by the game line. The Tar Heels have upsets of Michigan State, Louisville and Kentucky to back this up. There is no reason to believe the trend will stop against Syracuse.

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4. James Michael McAdoo Is Now Playing Well

Ellen Ozier-USA TODAY Sports

James Michael McAdoo struggled during the middle portion of North Carolina's non-conference schedule, but has seemed to find his way recently. McAdoo is averaging 15.6 points and 7.1 rebounds in his last eight games. His style of play is hard to match up against and he could be a difference maker against Syracuse.

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3. The Tar Heels Have A Big Front Line

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina boasts a huge post presence with Kennedy Meeks (6-9, 290 lbs.), Brice Johnson (6-9, 210 lbs) and Joel James (6-10, 280 lbs). While the trio has been inconsistent, this could be the game where all three play well and throw around the Orange inside.

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2. Playing On The Road Will Not Matter

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina is used to playing at an extremely tough gym, having to battle with Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium every year. While the Carrier Dome offers a different challenge because of depth perception on shooting, the Heels should not be phased by it. If UNC plays poorly, the dome will not be the reason.

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1. Marcus Paige Can Take Over At Anytime

Ellen Ozier-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Paige is one of the premier players in the country and he very easily could put the Tar Heels on his shoulders and carry them to this upset. Paige is averaging 22.6 points against ranked teams this season. He scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half against Kentucky.