CBB Analyst: If Syracuse Packs Zone Tight, They Can Beat UNC

The general consensus is that North Carolina is the best team in the Final Four, but what about the best coach? We’ve got Roy Williams, Jim Boeheim, Jay Wright and Lon Kruger – a quartet that has combined for three national championships and 17 Final Fours.

But which coach is the best?

“That’s a good question,” CBS Sports college basketball analyst Pete Gillen said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “They’re all great coaches. Roy has a system and he stays with his system. He doesn’t change much. Jay Wright is a tremendous offensive coach. Lon Kruger (has a team that can score) but he’s also an excellent defensive coach. I think they’re all great coaches. If you put a gun to my head, I would say Boeheim is the best coach. They’re all terrific coaches, but I would say Boeheim. . . . Boeheim’s a great coach. When I was at Providence for four years, I coached against him. He’s a terrific game coach. He makes adjustments. Some coaches don’t make adjustments. He adjusts. You saw that against Virginia (with the full-court press and half-court trap). He got the game playing fast and all of a sudden Malachi Richardson went crazy and (they pulled off) the stunning upset. So he’s a terrific game coach.”

Gillen believes Syracuse could upset North Carolina, but only if the Tar Heels struggle from the perimeter.

“They play the zone, and one of the North Carolina’s Achilles’ heels is their perimeter shooting,” Gillen said. “So if they pack in the zone really tight (and force Carolina to shoot jumpers, they could win). Carolina only shoots 31 percent from three-point land. So if they’re cold shooting – if Marcus Paige, their talented senior guard, is off – and then they can rebound out of it, they’ve got a chance. They certainly could do it. But just the size and athleticism of North Carolina is really scary.”

So scary, in fact, that many people feel this is North Carolina’s Final Four to lose. After all, the Tar Heels beat Syracuse twice during the regular season and would have a noticeable size and death advantage over either Villanova or Oklahoma.

Gillen agrees that UNC is easily the favorite heading into Houston.

“I do,” he said. “Any of the four teams can win. Obviously when you get this far, they’re all very good teams, great coaches – anybody can win. But I think North Carolina, to me, would be the strong favorite because their front line is arguably the best in college basketball with Brice Johnson. Kennedy Meeks and Justin Jackson are fabulous and they come off the bench with some talented guys. I think North Carolina is the favorite, but anything can happen.”

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