Syracuse Orange vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Pick – NCAAM January 12, 2021

There is a full slate of college basketball action on the Tuesday card. Five ranked teams are scheduled to be in action, with Wisconsin and Michigan the most interesting of the bench. That’s one I’m just going to sit back and watch. The oddsmakers appear to have it just right with the spread that’s currently on the board. I will pay attention to that game for future reference.

If Michigan throttles Wisconsin, you’re likely going to hear a lot more about them soon. They’ve flown up the national rankings on the back of Hunter Dickinson, who is presenting massive problems for opposing teams. You have to like Michigan in the Big Ten, and possibly a deep run in the NCAA Tournament in March.

The Syracuse Orange and North Carolina Tar Heels are usually a headline maker when they tangle, but that hasn’t been the case recently. Not that Syracuse and North Carolina have been playing terribly this season. That said, neither team are contenders, nor is Duke, who is typically a college basketball mainstay. The Orange have made two Final Four appearances since 2013, the most recent in 2016.

It has been 18 years since Syracuse won the National Championship. Carmelo Anthony led the Orange to a memorable championship for Syracuse. They went into the NCAA Tournament as the No. 8 seed in 2019 and didn’t go far. Baylor bounced them in the first-round, 78-69. Syracuse is going into Chapel Hill with a record of 7-2 following a 74-69 win over Georgetown. They might be 7-2, but have played a weak schedule so far.

North Carolina stands at 7-4 entering Tuesday night. The Tar Heels are coming off a 67-65 win on the road over the Miami Hurricanes on Tuesday. It was their second straight win following a 66-65 win over Notre Dame. The are more “battle tested” entering this contest, with games against Texas, Iowa, Kentucky, and Stanford on their schedule. The toughest team Syracuse has played is Rutgers, which was a 79-69 loss on December 8 at Rutgers. Head below for our free Syracuse vs. North Carolina pick on January 12, 2021.

Syracuse Orange vs. North Carolina Tar Heels NCAA Betting Odds:


  • Syracuse +3.5 (-120)
  • UNC -3.5 (-110)

  • Syracuse +150
  • UNC -170

  • Over 143.5 (-120)
  • Under 143.5 (+100)


Syracuse vs. North Carolina Prediction:

You look at Syracuse with a record of 7-2 and would think they’re doing a lot of things right. They have to play the games in front of them, though. It’s not the team’s fault they were handed an easy schedule to open the year. However, the record is deceptive if you dig a bit deeper into the Orange. Their seven wins have been against Bryant, Niagara, Rider, Boston College, Northeastern, Buffalo, and Georgetown. In a couple of instances, they almost lost against Bryant and Buffalo.

They needed overtime to down Buffalo, 107-96, and edged out Bryant by a point, 85-54, to open the season. In their losses, Syracuse were losers against Pitt last Wednesday, 63-60, and Rutgers on December 8, 79-69. In other words, a record of 7-2 sounds nice and all, but Syracuse doesn’t look as good when you break things down.

The Orange have netted 80 points a game for 50th in the NCAA. That overtime game against Buffalo certainly skewed things positively for them, though. Against their tougher opponents, Syracuse has struggled to get into a groove offensively. Slicing up a bad Boston College defense for 101 points isn’t particularly impressive. North Carolina has had to deal with several top contenders this season and played them well.

The Tar Heels came close in a 69-67 loss against No. 4 Texas on December 2. They also maintained striking distance against a very good Iowa team in a 93-80 defeat on the road in Iowa on December 8 following their loss versus Texas. Take away the Iowa game, and their defense has held up well. At home in 2020-21, the Tar Heels have conceded 64 points per game, while the Orange have given up 71 points a game on the road. North Carolina should be able to pull away in the final ten minutes in this one at the Dean Smith Center.


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Kyle E / Author

Kyle is a veteran of TheSportsGeek and has spent nearly a decade providing accurate sports picks and writeups here. He has been a sports handicapper for 10+ years and started sharing his picks and thoughts in 2011 at TheSportsGeek. His expertise spans across multiple sports, including the NFL, NCAAF, MLB, NHL, and horse racing. Prior to writing for TheSportsGeek, Kyle was a fantasy football expert, who ultimately parlayed it into a successful sports betting career. You can find his picks daily only at TheSportsGeek.