Wisconsin vs North Carolina
The Wisconsin Badgers (17-12) kick off the tournament with a matchup against the North Carolina Tar Heels (18-10). These are two historic schools meeting to start their tournament run, and these two teams are rather comparable. Wisconsin is a No. 9 seed, and North Carolina is a No. 8 seed.
The line is this game is very close, and Vegas is predicting a toss-up. Late in the regular season, both of these teams were challenged with very good opponents, preparing them well for this matchup. I expect this game to be very close, and it should come down the wire.
Players to Watch
For Wisconsin, the man that makes it all happen is guard D’Mitrik Trice. At 6’0” Trice plays much bigger than he may be and does a great job of driving to the basket. Trice led the Badgers in points per game with 13.7 and assists per game with 4. Wisconsin will need to put up points in this one and will need to do a good job inside limiting the athletic big men on UNC.
For North Carolina, they have a very big x-factor in athletic forward Armando Bacot. At 6’10”, Bacot is going to cause chaos for the Badgers defense. Bacot has done a great job doing many things for the Tar Heels and led all scorers with 12.2 points per game and eight rebounds per game. Bacot size in the middle will impact North Carolina on the offensive side of the ball but also affect Wisconsin on the defensive end. Bacot can take over this game and cause disruption on both ends.
Last Five Games
Wisconsin did not end the regular season on a good note losing four out of their last five games. Now, this might look very bad, but when you look at who they were playing and their ability to keep games close, things change a bit. Wisconsin lost close games to both the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Illinois Fighting Illini, who are two of the best teams this year. Wisconsin has a very good resume stemming from big games all year which makes their record a little more understandable.
North Carolina (3-2)
North Carolina ended the season winning three out of their last four games, losing in the last game to the Florida State Seminoles in a close one. North Carolina has shown the ability to score a lot of points and hang with some of the higher-tier teams in the league.
Wisconsin +1.5 (-110) Moneyline +105 Over/Under 137.5 (-110)
North Carolina -1.5 (-110) Moneyline -125 Over/Under 137.5 (-110)
Both teams in this matchup are hovering right around .500 in terms of their record against the spread. Wisconsin is 12-15-2 against the spread, while North Carolina is 13-13-2. With a line like +1.5 or -1.5, it is very close, and to avoid a bad beat, it is better to just pick a side in this one if you are leaning towards UNC. If you are leaning Wisconsin, take the points just in case they lose in a heartbreaking fashion.
When evaluating this matchup, it should be a good one. North Carolina is coming off a rather down year, but they still have plenty of young talent. The difference in this game is going to be North Carolina’s big men and their ability to run the floor and make plays. Tar Heels coach Roy Williams is known for having a stellar defensive team, and although they are not ranked in the top 5 like normal, the team is very efficient on defense. This should be an exciting and close match, but in the end, North Carolina should be able to win.
Betting pick: North Carolina Moneyline
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