North Carolina looks like one of the hottest teams in the country.

Coach Roy Williams wants a faster pace and stingier defense.

Those might be good objectives particularly for Wednesday night’s game at Syracuse.

“Now we have to turn around and play against that zone which is always difficult to play against,” Williams said. “There are so many different things you have to prepare for and it’s hard to simulate in practice.”

According to several projections, Syracuse sits squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble and might be in need of a quality victory to bolster its credentials. The Orange’s next game is Saturday night at Duke.

North Carolina has won the last five meetings with the Orange, including the 2016 Final Four semifinal.

“They’re playing as well right now as they have all year,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said of the Tar Heels.

North Carolina’s five-game winning streak was enhanced with Saturday night’s victory at Louisville.

“We didn’t do a great job defensively, but that’s a stuck record you’re hearing all the time,” Williams said. “We’ve got to continue to push to see if we can get better on the defensive end of the court.”

Williams said that he continues to encourage his team to play at a faster clip. That could come in handy against Syracuse’s bench-thin roster.

The Tar Heels might go back to practice segments using a 15-second shot clock to endorse the philosophy, Williams said.

“Our fast break is a medium fast break,” he said. “It’s not very fast.”

Though it’s a midweek game, the Carrier Dome turnout tonight could be the largest of the season.

“Most of the places we go, we play in front of a big crowd,” Williams said. “It’s little bit bigger building. … It’s not the gym, it’s the guys in the other uniform that usually beats you.”



Who: No. 10 North Carolina (21-7, 10-5) at Syracuse (18-9, 7-7)

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday (ESPN)

Where: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.

Series: North Carolina leads 9-4, including five victories in a row