UNC vs Gonzaga Odds & Betting

gonzaga-vs-unc-titleBoth North Carolina and Gonzaga survived close games to advance to the NCAA Championship game. For UNC, this is their 11th national title appearance, and they’re 5-5 so far in the championship. For Gonzaga, this is both their first Final Four and national title appearance in school history.

The Bulldogs punched their ticket here with a 77-73 victory over 7-seed South Carolina. They were winning handily, but had to fight off a second-half surge as the Gamecocks got hot.

UNC’s victory was a 77-76 nail-biter, and they needed two offensive rebounds to prevent Oregon from getting a final shot attempt. This is the second time in the last week that the Tar Heels needed last-second heroics to win, but they’re here in the championship for the second year in a row.

The line at GTBets.eu is extremely close for tomorrow night’s game, and the winner will likely cover their 1.5-point spread. Who’s it going to be? Find out as we analyze both Carolina and Gonzaga’s chances of winning, and look at their recent records against the spread (ATS).

No. 1 Gonzaga (37-1) vs. No. 1 North Carolina (32-7); Monday (April 3 @ 9:20pm ET)
GTBets.eu Betting Line: Oregon +1.5 (-110); North Carolina -1.5 (-110)
Over/Under: 153.5

Why the Bulldogs will Cover their +1.5 Spread

zach-collins-vs-south-carolinaThe Zags are one of the few teams that can match up with UNC from both a size and perimeter perspective. In fact, with 7-footer Zach Collins coming off the bench, one could argue that Gonzaga has the best talent down low.

Collins, a potential NBA lottery pick, is averaging 10.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks on the season. The freshman played an outstanding game against South Carolina, hitting 6-of-10 shots, collecting 13 rebounds, and blocking 6 shots.

Their other big guy is Polish bruiser Przemek Karnowski, a 7’1″, 300-pounder who averages 12.3 points and 5.8 boards. 6’9″ forward Johnathan Williams is also good inside, scoring 10.2 PPG and grabbing 6.5 rebounds. Williams didn’t do much against the Gamecocks, but Karnowski did, making 6-of-12 attempts.

nigel-williams-gossThis team is led by senior point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who averages 16.9 points and 4.7 assists per game. Williams-Goss fueled the win over South Carolina and their star guard, P.J. Dozier, as he scored 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting. This was his best shooting game of the tournament, meaning Williams-Goss is stepping up at the right time.

One more guard who’ll play a big role against UNC is Jordan Williams. The 6’4″ senior scored 12 points against the Gamecocks on just 4-of-11 shooting – with all four makes being three’s. He hasn’t shot well in the tournament, but if he can hit against the Tar Heels, it would be a huge boost.

karnowski-vs-south-carolinaComing into March Madness, depth was one of Gonzaga’s biggest assets. However, Mark Few shortened up his rotation against South Carolina, only playing Collins, junior guard Silas Melson (7.3 PPG), and freshman forward Killias Tillie (4.3 PPG) off the bench. Considering that starting guard Josh Perkins scored zero points in 22 minutes, the Zags didn’t have much firepower outside of Williams-Goss, Collins, Karnowski, and Williams.

If they can get just one more player to step up, then they have a real chance of beating North Carolina and winning their first-ever title. The size, perimeter play, and talent is there, especially with Collins. They just need to execute the game plan.

ATS: In the tournament, Gonzaga is 2-2-1. In their last 10 games, they’re 4-5-1.

Why the Tar Heels will cover their -1.5 Spread

kennedy-meeks-oregonFor North Carolina, the goal has been the same all year long: make the championship game. The contest against Oregon was too close for comfort, and the Tar Heels had one of their worst shooting performances (36.8%). But, as has been the case all season, they again have the talent edge.

First off, 6’10” senior forward Kennedy Meeks is playing the best basketball of his career. Against Kentucky, he got the job done with 17 rebounds and 4 blocks. Against the Ducks, he did it with his scoring, hitting 11-of-13 attempts for 25 points. This was much needed because nobody else on the team shot above 50%.

As we’ve discussed throughout March Madness the Tar Heels’ big advantage is that they can keep throwing big guys at opponents. This includes forwards 6’9″ Isaiah Hicks (11.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG), 6’10” Tony Bradley (7.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG), Theo Pinson (6.1 PPG), and Luke Maye (5.7 PPG).

joel-berry-oregonOne reason why the Oregon game was so close is that these four forwards combined for 4-for-25 shooting and 14 points. Hicks was especially bad since the sophomore shot 1-for-12 from the field. But Hicks and the rest of this group are also capable of big things, and they give UNC front-line depth that nobody in the country can match.

Gonzaga will also have to worry about team stars Justin Jackson (18.3 PPG) and Joel Berry II (14.5 PPG). Both are streaky shooters who can win games as a duo. Jackson had a solid game against Oregon, shooting 6-for-13 – with all of his makes being three-pointers. Berry, on the other hand, struggled and made just 2-of-14 shots.

If North Carolina has both Berry and Jackson hitting at the same time, then, combined with UNC’s size, this game will be over. If not, they’re still the better team by a slight margin and capable of winning with their large rotation of forwards.

ATS Record: In the tournament, UNC is the same as Gonzaga, going 2-2-1. In the last 10 contests, they’re 5-4-1, making them slightly better ATS lately.

Final Thoughts on Gonzaga vs. North Carolina Betting

justin-jackson-uncAgain, the Zags are one of the few teams that has the all-around talent to play with North Carolina. We love their size down low with Collins, Karnowski, and Johnathan Williams. They also have a couple of guards in Williams-Goss and Jordan Williams, who can match up well with UNC’s Berry and Jackson.

Nevertheless, the Tar Heels have been more talented all-around than everybody they’ve faced. We’d love to see the story of Gonzaga – a West Coast Conference school – winning the national title game. But we think that UNC is too good, plus they’re on a mission to avenge last year’s championship loss to Villanova.

Final Score Prediction: UNC wins 78-75

Final Four Betting: Oregon vs. North Carolina

The talk heading into the tournament for Oregon is how they lost key forward Chris Boucher (ACL) in the Pac 12 tournament. Many thought that a Sweet 16 appearance was possible, but a Final Four trip? That seemed like a stretch.

But the Ducks have surprised the naysayers, knocking off 14-seed Iona, 11-seed Rhode Island, 7-seed Michigan, and 1-seed Kansas. The Jayhawks were definitely favored against Oregon, but the latter pulled out a solid 74-60 victory. Next up: North Carolina, the tournament’s top-overall seed.

Getting here hasn’t been easy for UNC because they survived 8-seed Arkansas in the second round, and needed a Luke Maye game-winner to knock off Kentucky. Despite the close calls, nothing has changed for UNC, and a championship is still the expectation.

Will they win the school’s sixth national championship? Let’s find out by discussing both teams and also going over betting strategy for this game.

No. 3 Oregon (33-5) vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (31-7); Saturday (April 1 @ 8:35pm)
GTBets.eu Betting Line: Oregon +5 (-110); North Carolina -5 (-110)

Why the Ducks will Cover their +5 Spread

tyler-dorsey-vs-kansasThe one big area where Boucher’s loss hurts is depth. Luckily for the Ducks, though, they have enough good players to make up for his absence.

This team is led by the energetic Dillon Brooks (16.3 PPG), a 6’6″ forward who shoots 41% from beyond the arc. Sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey (14.5 PPG) also shoots well from three-point range, hitting 42.3% of his attempts. Dorsey has been the key in March Madness, averaging 24.5 points while making 17-of-26 three-pointers (65.4%) in four games.

6’9″ junior forward Jordan Bell (10.9 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 2.2 BPG) is a reason why Oregon is one of the few teams that can contend with North Carolina’s size. Coach Dana Altman will probably use the 6’11” Kavell Bigby-Williams more in this game too. Bigby-Williams plays less than 10 minutes a game, but he also averages nearly 1 block in this limited time.

jordan-bell-vs-kansasDylan Ennis (10.7 PPG) is one more player to watch in this contest. The 6’2″ guard helps Dorsey with the ball-handing duties and also provides good leadership.

Much of the Ducks’ hopes rely on Dorsey staying hot, and Brooks/Bell/Bigby-Williams being able to contain UNC’s front line. If they can do this, then they have a realistic shot at moving onto the school’s first national championship game since 1939.

Regarding betting, Oregon is 3-1 against the spread (ATS) in the tournament. In the 11 games leading up to March Madness, the Ducks were 7-4 ATS.

Why the Tar Heels will cover their -5 Spread

kennedy-meeks-vs-kentuckyNorth Carolina avenged an earlier loss to Kentucky by winning 75-73 in dramatic fashion. The close game wasn’t totally surprising, given that the Wildcats had three potential NBA lottery picks on their roster. But UNC survived the test and are in their second-straight Final Four.

Leading scorers Justin Jackson (18.2 PPG) and Joel Berry III (14.6 PPG) struggled against Kentucky, hitting 11-of-29 shots, including 1-for-10 from three-point range. Lucky for them, 6’10” Kennedy Meeks (12.3 PPG, 9.3 RPG) was a beast, grabbing 17 rebounds (5 offensive) and blocking four shots.

Meeks is joined on the front line by 6’9″ Isaiah Hicks (12.1 PPG, 5.4 PPG) and 6’6″ Todd Pinson (6.0 PPG, 4.2 RGP). Hicks will need to step up against Oregon since he had 4 points and zero rebounds against Kentucky; but he did help the defensive effort, blocking 3 shots.

What makes UNC even harder to defend is the fact that they can bring the 6”8″ Maye off the bench. Although the sophomore is only averaging 5.8 points during the season, he’s scoring 12.5 PPG in March Madness, including 16.5 points over the past two games.

The Tar Heels have multiple forwards that they can employ at any time. Plus, Jackson is a 6’8″ forward who plays like a shooting guard. There’s a very good chance that North Carolina can impose their will on the shorter and less-deep Ducks.

UNC is 2-1-1 ATS in March Madness, and 5-2-1 ATS in their eight games before the tourney.

Final Thoughts on Oregon vs. North Carolina Betting

It’s not hard to see why the Ducks made the Final Four when you consider that Dorsey has stepped up big-time, averaging 24.5 points during March Madness and shooting a blistering 65% from beyond the arc. Add in the usually strong play of Brooks, Bell, and Ennis, and this is a legitimate Final Four squad.

The problem, though, is that Oregon’s front line will get wore out competing against the likes of Meeks, Hicks, Pinson, Jackson, and Maye. Bell is a very good rebounder and shot blocker, while Bigby-Williams will provide shot blocking off the bench. However, the Ducks can’t rotate forwards in and out of the game the entire time like UNC. That said, we expect the Tar Heels to have big rebounding and paint-scoring advantages.

Final Score Prediction: North Carolina wins 85-77

Final Four Betting: South Carolina vs. Gonzaga

thornwell-south-carolinaSouth Carolina is easily the most-surprising of the 2017 Final Four participants. They ended their SEC conference schedule on a down note, losing 6 of their last 9 games, and getting into the tournament based on earlier results. And this is the reason why few expected the Gamecocks to make any noise during March Madness.

But here we are nearing April, and South Carolina is the tournament’s only Cinderella left. Victories over 10-seed Marquette, 2-seed Duke, 3-seed Baylor, and 4-seed Florida have earned them a trip to Phoenix.

Their opponent is Gonzaga, which finally exercised some demons by booking a trip to the Final Four. Of course, it should be little surprise that the Bulldogs have made it this far since they’ve only lost one game, and have been in or around the nation’s top ranking all year.

Gonzaga’s road to the Final Four hasn’t been as tough as South Carolina’s, winning over 16-seed South Dakota State, 8-seed Northwestern, 4-seed West Virginia, and 11-seed Xavier. But the Bulldogs fended off potential upsets and are one step closer to winning the title.

Who will win and move into the title game to play the winner of Oregon/North Carolina? Which team will cover their spread? Find out as we discuss everything you need to know regarding the Bulldogs and Gamecocks.

No. 7 South Carolina (26-10) vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (36-1); Friday (April 1 @ 6:05pm)
GTBets.eu Betting Line: South Carolina +7 (-110); Gonzaga -7 (-110)

Why the Gamecocks will Cover their +7 Spread

As mentioned in the introduction, nothing has been easy for South Carolina. Few expected them to get past Duke in the second round, but they pulled off an 88-81 upset. Then they made things look easy against Baylor, winning 70-50.

Beating Florida for a second time this season? No problem for a South Carolina team that’s exceeded expectations throughout the tourney.

Based on what the Gamecocks have done so far, it’s not outside the bounds to think that they could also knock off the Zags. Gonzaga is a little better overall than Duke, Baylor, and Florida, but they’re not an insurmountable task.

dozier-thornwellThe key for South Carolina is making sure that their stars are on. This isn’t a deep team, so they need guards Sindarius Thornwell (21.6 PPG) and P.J. Dozier (13.8 PPG) to step up. This was certainly the case against Florida, as Thornwell hit 8-of-13 shots while scoring 26 points, and Dozier make 7-of-11 shots to score 17. Others who played well against the Gators include Chris Silva (13 points, 9 rebounds) and Maik Kostar (12 points).

The problem – as it’s been all season for South Carolina – is that they only got 3 points off their bench. Additionally, they played four of their starters for 36 minutes or more, meaning there’s little firepower outside of the core players.

Thornwell and Dozier have been great in the tournament so far. If they’re both on again, and get some help from another starter or two, then this team can make an improbably championship appearance.

From a betting standpoint, South Carolina is 4-0 against the spread (ATS) in their last four games. But in the 10 contests prior to March Madness, they were just 1-9 ATS.

Why the Bulldogs will cover their -7 Spread

gonzaga-march-madnessOver the past two decades, Gonzaga has transformed from a little-known basketball school into a powerhouse that makes the tournament every year. But the only thing missing from the Bulldogs’ resume until now was a Final Four appearance. They’ve taken care of this bit of history and are now looking at more if they can get past a less-heralded South Carolina team.

As we discussed earlier in the year, this is the most-complete team we’ve seen from Gonzaga. The dilemma in years’ past was always that they relied on one pro-level talent to score big, including Adam Morrison, Kyle Wiltjer, and Domantas Sabonis. But this season, the Zags have several players who can score and can absorb 1-2 starters having an off-night.

karnowski-gonzagaThe leading scorer is point guard Nigel Williams-Goss (16.7 PPG, 4.6 APG), while Przemek Karnowski (12.2 PPG), Jordan Matthews (10.7 PPG), Jonathan Williams (10.3 PPG), Zach Collins (9.9 PPG, 1.6 BPG), and Josh Perkins (8.2 PPG) also make significant contributions. Basically, this Bulldogs team is everything that the Gamecocks aren’t.

Last weekend, we saw Gonzaga end Xavier’s season with emphasis, thumping this Cinderella 83-59. Their depth was on full display, as four players scored in double figures, and they got a solid 14 points off the bench. There’s a good chance that they’ll dominate South Carolina and end their season as well.

From a betting perspective, the Zags are 1-2-1 ATS in March Madness. In their last 9 games before the tourney, they were 7-2 ATS.

Final Thoughts on South Carolina vs. Gonzaga Betting

This game features two teams playing in their school’s first-ever Final Four. On one side, you have a South Carolina team that relies on two stars in Dozier and Thornwell to carry them. Meanwhile, Gonzaga has a solid starting five along with support from the bench. Based on the Bulldogs’ depth, we see them overwhelming the Gamecocks while using their strong defense to force Dozier and/or Thornwell into a poor-shooting game.

Final Score Prediction: Gonzaga wins 83-69

Elite Eight Betting: UNC vs. Kentucky

justin-jackson-uncThe 2017 Elite Eight is full of good matchups, but one stands out above the rest : North Carolina vs. Kentucky. Not only is this a storied rivalry between two of the winningest teams of all time, but it’s also the toughest matchup.

As we’ve discussed all along, we believe that UNC is destined to win the tournament based on their experience and talent. But with three potential NBA lottery picks on their team, Kentucky is certainly capable of winning this game and the entire tourney.

Who will move on to the Final Four? Which team should you bet on? Let’s find out by looking at the betting line along with why each team can cover the spread/win the game.

No. 2 Kentucky (32-5) vs. No. 1 UNC (30-7); Sunday (Mar 26 @ 5:05pm)
GTBets.eu Betting Line: UNC -2.5 (-110); Kentucky +2.5 (-110)

Why the Wildcats will Cover the Spread

de-aaron-foxEarlier this week, we thought the Kentucky vs. UCLA game would go differently, with the Bruins winning again thanks to their uptempo style. But the Wildcats picked apart UCLA’s defense with their own uptempo attack, while also stopping their opponent in an 86-75 victory.

A big reason why the Bruins lost is the play of Kentucky freshman guard De’Aaron Fox. Perhaps fueled by the mock drafts and scouts considering UCLA’s Lonzo Ball to be the better point guard, Fox exploded for 39 points. A virtual lock as a top-5 draft pick, Fox hit 13-of-20 from the field on an assortment of floaters and running jumpers. He’ll need to showcase this kind of talent again if Kentucky is going to beat a more-experienced North Carolina team.

Also critical to the cause are fellow future NBAers Malik Monk and Edrice “Bam” Adebayo. Monk, a 6’3″ freshman shooting guard, made 8-of-17 shots en route to 21 points. He and Fox are hitting their stride at the right time and nearly beat UCLA by themselves.

malik-monk-march-madnessBam was neutralized, scoring just 2 points and grabbing 4 rebounds. Given that he’s averaging 13 points and 8 rebounds on the season, Kentucky needs the 6’10” forward to step up against the Tar Heels.

Luckily for the Wildcats, senior forward Derek Willis had a solid game with 8 points, 8 boards, and 4 assists. He only shot 3-of-11 from the field, but still did enough as a role player to aid Fox and Monk.

Summarizing Kentucky’s chances, Fox and Monk will be the most-talented players on the floor Sunday. If they’re hot again, then John Calipari’s squad will reach their fourth Final Four in the last seven years.

From a betting perspective, Kentucky is only 4-7 against the spread (ATS) in their last 11 games.

Why the Tar Heels will cover the Spread

While Butler has been a giant slayer in recent years, they weren’t able to keep up with North Carolina in a 92-80 loss.

The team’s offensive stars, F Justin Jackson and G Joel Berry III, came through with 24 and 26 points, respectively, on a combined 17-of-31 shooting. Both players are juniors who’ve been through the tournament grind before and won’t be rattled in a close game.

While Jackson and Berry are great players, what makes the Tar Heels so good is their depth. This was put on full display with Kennedy Meeks grabbing 11 rebounds, Isaiah Hicks scoring 9 points on 4-of-5 shooting, and Luke Maye coming off the bench to score 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting.

This represents the biggest problem for the Wildcats in that North Carolina is a complete team with multiple players who can step up. If Jackson and/or Berry are off, like they were against Arkansas in the second round, other players like Meeks, Hicks, and Maye rise to the occasion.

Of course, we can’t overlook the experience of this team either. North Carolina is led by juniors and seniors who played on last year’s runner-up squad. A narrow 77-74 championship loss to Villanova has fueled Roy Williams’ team all season.

Assuming UNC can contain Kentucky, their upperclassmen will push this team another step further towards a title.

As for betting, UNC is 7-3-1 ATS in their last 11 contests.

Final Thoughts on Kentucky vs UNC

This is a true wildcard game due to the Wildcats’ three freshman. As Fox and Monk showed in the Sweet Sixteen, they’re capable of great things when hitting shots. Adebayo is also capable of big games – both from a rebounding/shot-blocking and scoring perspective.

North Carolina, on the other hand, is a known quantity. We know that they’re going to play with poise and look for good shots. Furthermore, they’re a deeper team than the Wildcats. While we can see Fox, Monk, and/or Adebayo getting hot and propelling Kentucky to the win, the safe money is on North Carolina covering -2.5.

Final Score Prediction: North Carolina wins 82-77

Sweet Sixteen Betting: UCLA vs Kentucky

kentucky-ucla-march-madnessUCLA’s 2016 season was a disaster as the team went 15-17, leading to calls for Steve Alford’s job. But what a difference a year makes since the Bruins (31-4) are now in the Sweet 16, with a chance to make their first Elite Eight appearance since 2008.

They got here with solid victories over 14-seed Kent State (97-80) and 6-seed Cincinnati (79-67). The latter proved a good challenge before UCLA faces Kentucky, a team just as talented as itself.

As for John Calipari’s squad, they’re in familiar territory, having made the Sweet Sixteen in six of the past eight seasons. But given the quality of their opponent, this is one of the few times the Wildcats haven’t been favored in a Sweet Sixteen matchup.

Who will move on and face the winner of UNC/Gonzaga? Find out as we discuss both teams’ chances and offer some betting advice.

UCLA (31-4) vs. Kentucky (31-5); Friday (Mar 24 @ 9:35pm)
GTBets.eu Betting Line: UCLA 0 (-110); Kentucky 0 (-110)

Why the Bruins will Cover the Spread

lonzo-tj-leafWith apologies to Baylor and Oregon, UCLA is the best and most-talented #3 seed in the tournament. You could easily argue that they’re under-seeded, but a third-place conference finish in the Pac 12 relegated them to this position.

If you look at the Bruins’ schedule, they got revenge for all four of their losses, which included Oregon, USC, and Arizona (twice). This is a squad that faced a number of quality opponents during the year, and they’re as prepared for a deep tournament run as anybody.

The Bruins feature a nice mix of youth and experience in their lineup. They’re led by Pac 12 Freshman of the Year Lonzo Ball (14.7 PPG, 7.6 APG) and fellow freshman T.J. Leaf (16.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG). Sophomore guard Aaron Holiday (12.5 PPG) also chips in plenty of points. Leadership is provided by senior G Bryce Alford (15.6 PPG), senior G Isaac Hamilton (14.0 PPG), and junior C Thomas Welsh (10.8 PPG, 8.7 RPG).

With six double-digit scorers, it’s not hard to see how UCLA led the nation in scoring at 90.2 PPG. This is a big reason why we at GTBets.eu have the over/under set at 165.5.

Kentucky can also score (85.2 PPG), but we like the Bruins if this turns into a shootout. In fact, this is exactly what happened when the teams met in Rupp Arena on Dec. 3, with UCLA prevailing 97-92.

The one concern if you’re thinking of betting on the Bruins is that they’re just 1-4 against the spread (ATS) in their last five contests. They either win or lose this game, but it’s hard to put lots of faith in them judging from the ATS performance.

Why the Wildcats will cover the Spread

deaaron-foxOutside of a mid-season 82-80 loss to the Tennessee Volunteers (16-16), Kentucky beat everybody they were supposed to. They also notched significant victories over North Carolina and Florida. Currently on a 13-game win streak, the Wildcats have played their best basketball when it matters most.

You almost have to like that Kentucky lost to UCLA earlier this season because they have the revenge factor going for them. Of course, this team has a lot more to bank their hopes on than just revenge.

For starters, they’re led by three potential NBA lottery picks in De’Aaron Fox (16.1 PPG), Malik Monk (20.0 PPG), and Edrice “Bam” Adebayo (13.3 PPG, 8.8 RPG).

UCLA has their own lottery hopefuls as well in Ball and Leaf. But three trumps two in this case, and we really like Kentucky from an overall talent perspective.

Senior forward Derek Willis (7.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG) is also crucial to the Wildcats since he’s been through tournament runs before and provides a veteran influence.

From a betting perspective, Kentucky hasn’t been any better than UCLA, going 1-4 ATS in their last five contests. They failed to cover in victories against Northern Kentucky (79-70) in the first round, and Wichita State (65-62) in the second round.

Final Thoughts on Kentucky vs UCLA

With lottery picks on both squads and an even betting line, you could flip a coin to decide this one. But we slightly favor the Bruins to win again because they have the best player on the floor in Ball, and they’ve performed better against elite competition. Kentucky, on the other hand, topped a weaker conference and lost marquee games to both Kansas and Louisville.

Final Score Prediction: UCLA wins 90-88

Sweet Sixteen Betting: Butler vs UNC Analysis

unc-butler-bettingThe North Carolina Tar Heels lost the 2016 championship game by 3 points to Villanova last year. The sting of this loss has motivated them to an ACC title and the 2017 tournament’s top overall seed. But they won’t be happy until they get complete redemption in the form of a title.

All has gone according to plan so far for UNC, with a 103-64 victory over 16-seed Texas Southern, and a 72-65 win against 8-seed Arkansas. The latter was a nice test for the Tar Heels as they gear up for an even bigger challenge in Butler.

Speaking of the Bulldogs, they closed their regular season and conference tournament on a sour note, losing to both Seton Hall and Xavier (Big East tournament). Despite these losses, Butler did enough to attain a No. 4 seed, largely thanks to two victories over Villanova during the Big East conference schedule.

They’ve put their seeding to good use, knocking off 13-seed Winthrop by a score of 76-64, and 12-seed Middle Tennessee by a tally of 74-65. Are these tune-up games enough for the ultimate challenge in UNC? Let’s find out by discussing how both teams will fare in this Sweet Sixteen contest.

Butler (25-8) vs. UNC (29-7); Friday (Mar 24 @ 7:05pm)
GTBets.eu Betting Line: UNC -7.5 (-110); Butler +7.5 (-110)

Why the Bulldogs will Cover the Spread

kelan-martin-butlerEver since Brad Stevens turned this program into a giant killer in the mid-2000s, Butler has continued to notch quality wins over the years. 2017 was no different since they earned nine wins over tournament teams, including Villanova (twice) and Arizona.

But there were also a couple of puzzling losses to Indiana State and St. John’s. Given the opponent, we don’t expect an empty performance from Butler on Friday night.

North Carolina and the Bulldogs have some familiarity with each since Butler has upset the Tar Heels twice in the past five years. It’s not unfathomable to think that they can do it again, although this is a tougher UNC squad than the ones that were beaten before.

One thing that Butler has going for them is experience, with most of their rotation players being juniors and seniors. Junior forward Kelan Martin leads the team with 16.0 PPG and 5.8 RPG. Senior forward Andrew Chrabascz (11.1 PPG) is another important cog for the Bulldogs. Other contributors include freshman G Kamar Baldwin (10.0 PPG), senior G Avery Woodson (8.9 PPG), and senior G Kevan Savage (8.0 PPG).

Butler is a smart, disciplined team that can beat anybody in the country when at their peak. And if they bring their A-game, it’s possible that they’ll upset the Tar Heels once again.

One big reason to wager on the Bulldogs is that they’re 7-1 against the spread (ATS) in their last eight contests as an underdog.

Why the Tar Heels will Cover the Spread

North Carolina emerged from the nation’s toughest conference with a championship, thus setting them up to be March Madness favorites.

The one unsettling thing about UNC is that they blew a 17-point, first-half lead against the Razorbacks. North Carolina came back for the victory, which could serve as the scare they need to stay focused.

Team stars Joel Berry and Justin Jackson struggled in this contest, making just 2-of-13 and 5-of-14 shots respectively. But Kennedy Meeks came up big, hitting 7-of-13 shots, grabbing 11 rebounds, and blocking 3 shots. The bench also shot well, nailing a combined 7-of-11 field goal attempts.

This represents one of the biggest problems in trying to contain UNC because they have too much talent. If Jackson or Berry aren’t on, then other players like Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, Tony Bradley and Luke Maye can step up when needed.

Another issue Butler needs to worry about is the Tar Heels’ size. Few match up well with this team, which, thanks to Jackson’s versatility, starts four forwards and plays two more in the rotation.

From a betting perspective, UNC seems like the safe bet here because they’re 5-1-1 ATS when favored by seven points or more.

Final Thoughts on Butler vs. UNC Betting

This is a tough game to call because both North Carolina and Butler have been on fire regarding the spread. As mentioned before, the Bulldogs are 7-1 ATS as an underdog recently, while the Tar Heels have gone 5-1-1 ATS as a favorite of -7 or better. Their lone loss was the 72-65 win over Arkansas, where they failed to cover -11.5.

As stated before, we believe North Carolina will cut down the nets in Phoenix, thus avenging their loss last year. But can they defeat Butler by 8 points or more? Normally we’d say no, but given how close the last game was, we expect the Tar Heels to come out on fire.

Final Score Prediction: UNC wins 79-68