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North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles Predictions, Picks, Odds and Betting Preview – NCAA March Madness Round of 64 – March 17, 2016

North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles Predictions, Picks, Odds and Betting Preview – NCAA March Madness Round of 64 – March 17, 2016

North Carolina solidified its position as one of the favorites for this year’s March Madness with a resounding win over West Virginia in the ACC Tournament title game. The Tar Heels will look to live up to that favorite tag starting on Thursday when they take on the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in the first round of the national tournament.

Will North Carolina stamp its class over Florida Gulf Coast? Or will the Eagles add to the craziness of March Madness and be the first 16th-seeded team to advance into the second round? Read on below for a breakdown of this East Region matchup and while you’re at it, you can check out our first-round previews of Kansas vs. Austin Peay and Utah vs. Fresno State.

March Madness News & Predictions

March Madness No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 16 Florida Gulf Coast Preview

Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh

When: Thursday, March 17, 7:20 PM ET

Line: North Carolina Tar Heels (-22) vs. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (+22); total: 148.0view all March Madness lines

TV Broadcast: TBS

Betting on the North Carolina Tar Heels

The North Carolina Tar Heels will head into the national tournament with momentum on their side after capturing the ACC Tournament title in thrilling fashion at Verizon Center on Saturday night. The Tar Heels edged past the Virginia Cavaliers, 61-57, to grab their first league title since 2008.


North Carolina used a balanced offensive attack to defeat Virginia in the championship game. Six players scored at least four points for the Tar Heels in that contest. Leading the way for the Tar Heels was Joel Berry II who scored a game-high 19 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field.

What makes North Carolina’s win so incredible was that it did it even with limited production from Marcus Paige. He scored just 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting against the Hoos. Paige struggled mightily with his outside shot, going 0-for-7 from beyond the arc. For the Tar Heels to go deep in this year’s tournament, they will need Paige to be more accurate with his perimeter shots.

Paige has been a vital cog to the Tar Heels’ success this season, averaging 12.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and a team-best 3.7 assists per game. He’s one of four players averaging in double figures for North Carolina which include Brice Johnson (16.6 PPG), Justin Jackson (12.1 PPG) and Berry II (12.7 PPG).

Thanks to this quartet, the Tar Heels have managed to put up a whopping 82.3 points per game this season, 12th in the entire nation. They are expected to run roughshod against a Florida Gulf Coast defense that has allowed 70.5 points per game this campaign, 142nd in the entire NCAA.

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Betting on the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles

North Carolina vs FGCU Predictions/Odds - March Madness 2016

Florida Gulf Coast’s national tournament hopes are still very much alive after recording an emphatic 96-65 victory over the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights in the First Four on Tuesday night. It was the fourth consecutive win for the Eagles who sealed a dream showdown with No. 1 seed North Carolina in the first round.

Marc Eddy Norelia starred for the Eagles in this game, putting up 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in an impressive all-around performance. He now has 13 double-doubles this season, an FGCU record. Norelia has been instrumental to the Eagles’ success this season, averaging 17.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game this campaign.

The Eagles will need Norelia to continue that excellent form if they are to stand a chance against the Tar Heels. He will have his work cut out for him, however, against a North Carolina defense that looked formidable in the ACC championship game against Virginia. The Tar Heels held the Cavaliers without a field goal for more than eight minutes in the second half of that title game.

The Eagles can ill afford to go on such a long scoring drought especially against a North Carolina team that is packed with offensive talent. Fortunately for head coach Joe Dooley, his team is rolling right now on that side of the floor. The Eagles shot an incredible 59.6 percent from the field in the win against FDU. The one thing they will need to work on, though, is their free throw shooting. The Eagles shot just 58.8 percent from the charity stripe on Tuesday.

Writer’s Prediction

North Carolina (-22) trounces Florida Gulf Coast, 82-63.




Written by Joel

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