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2017 March Madness Elite Eight – North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Kentucky Wildcats Predictions, Picks and NCAA Basketball Betting Preview

2017 March Madness Elite Eight – North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Kentucky Wildcats Predictions, Picks and NCAA Basketball Betting Preview

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Kentucky Preview

Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN

When: Sunday, March 26, 2017, 5:05 PM ET

Line: North Carolina Tar Heels (-2) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (+2); total: 159.5 – view all NCAA Basketball lines

TV Broadcast: CBS

College Basketball News and Previews

Betting on the North Carolina Tar Heels

Point Spread: -2

The boys from Chapel Hill have done it again. The top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels beat the No. 4 Butler Bulldogs on Friday, 92-80, to make it to their eighth Elite Eight appearance since 2000.

As expected, UNC’s win was powered by its two upperclassmen standouts: juniors Joel Berry II (24 points) and Justin Jackson (24). What’s more impressive is that the team also got a jolt from an unlikely source. Sophomore forward Luke Maye had a night to remember off the bench, scoring a career-high 16 points and hauling in 12 boards for his first-career double-double as well.

Maye’s performance perfectly illustrates his team’s hustle that we’ve seen all season long. The Tar Heels – the nation’s top rebounding team during the regular season – out-rebounded the Bulldogs, 38-26, in Friday’s South Regional semifinal clash.

Apart from sustaining their dominance on the glass, North Carolina has got to keep its efficient shooting performance going against a high-scoring program like Kentucky this weekend. A superb 54.4-percent field-goal shooting night versus Butler is fantastic news, but we can all recall how potent the Wildcats’ offense is just the same based from their regular-season encounter from earlier this season. Which now leads us to…

Betting on the Kentucky Wildcats

Point Spread: +2

Unfazed by facing the highest-scoring team in the country, the No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats outgunned the third-seeded UCLA Bruins on Friday, 86-75, to set up a highly-anticipated rematch versus North Carolina this Sunday.

Kentucky’s explosive core of young stars shone bright indeed against the Bruins, as Malik Monk scored 21 points with four three-pointers and fellow freshman guard De’Aaron Fox scored a career-high 39 points.

Not only did this duo light up the scoreboard, the Wildcats as a whole, more importantly, were terrific at shutting down Lonzo Ball and Co. Although UCLA shot better from the floor on Friday, John Calipari’s boys forced the Bruins to commit 13 turnovers (compared to Kentucky’s six) and connect on just nine of their 23 three-point attempts. In turn, the Wildcats held the Bruins to a mere 75 points on the evening – 15 points below their season average and a point shy of tying their season low.

Another terrific defensive effort and efficient shooting performance is what the Wildcats should strive for, but that goes without saying that they could also match UNC’s own offensive prowess once more. These two schools met in a marquee regular-season contest in December 18, and the ‘Cats edged past the Tar Heels, 103-100, behind Monk’s whopping 47 points (a new school record for a freshman).

That victory was no fluke, either. Kentucky has actually beaten North Carolina four out of the past five times they’ve met since 2011 (3-2 ATS), so it certainly appears that the boys from Lexington are in great shape to advance to their fifth Final Four appearance in the Big Dance in seven seasons.

Writer’s Prediction

The Wildcats (+2) get the better of the Tar Heels again, 87-81.

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Written by Mark

Sports Betting Tips, News, and Analysis