Opening Line: Marquette +4.5 / North Carolina -4.5 Over/Under: 149.5
Time: 7:15 PM EST Friday March 25, 2011 on CBS
No surprise that the 2nd seed Tar Heels advanced to the Sweet 16 in the East Region, but it is a little surprising that Marquette made it this far after 2 upsets in the Big Dance. UNC squeaked by Washington in their last game and now face a scrappy Golden Eagles squad that did not play very well on defense in their last win, but they were solid on the glass and forced many turnovers.
In advancing to the East Region semifinals Marquette beat Big East rival Syracuse 66-62 and North Carolina beat Washington 86-83.
In betting terms Marquette was the better team this season at 18-12 ATS while UNC is only at 15-16-1 ATS.
Marquette has to shoot better and play better defense against UNC than they did in their upset win over Syracuse. In that game the Golden Eagles only shot 41.2% from the field and they allowed the Orange to shoot 55.3% from the floor. They can’t rely on their rebounding to win this game, as the Tar Heels rank number one in the nation in rebounds per game. G Darius Johnson-Odom had 17 points in the Syracuse win and the Marquette bench really stepped up scoring 27 points.
Odom and G/F Jimmy Butler each shot around 36% from behind the 3-pt arc and they will need to bury some long bombs in this game. The Golden Eagles nailed 11 3-pointers in the win over Syracuse and if they can do that again there is a good chance they will score their 3rd straight upset.
UNC beat Washington because all 5 players scored in double figures and they got the foul line 23 times while the Huskies only got the charity stripe 7 times. Marquette cannot settle for jumpers, as they need to get to the free throw line and get some easy points.
Can Marquette keep up with the 6’10” F tandem of Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller, who combined for 45 points in the win over Washington? That is a tall order, but they must keep them in check, especially on the glass or their Big Dance will be over. Marquette only ranks 104th in the nation in rebounds per game.
Marquette is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games including covered the spread in both of their tournament games and they have an Under record of 17-5 in their last 22 games.
North Carolina is 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 games and has an Over record of 8-2 in their last 10 games as a favorite of 0.5-6.5.
Our Selection : The Tar Heels have the ability to blow out the at times scoring challenged Golden Eagles. Look for North Carolina to get out to fast start and dominate throughout. Take the Tar Heels -4.5 at 5Dimes.
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