North Carolina Tar Heels (29-6) vs. Auburn Tigers (28-9)
NCAA March Madness: Friday, March 29, 2019 at 7:29 pm (Capital One Arena)
Line and Odds: North Carolina -5 – Over/Under: 164.5
Free March Madness Pick North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Auburn Tigers
The Auburn Tigers are one of the hottest teams in college basketball right now—and they’re peaking at the perfect time. In the midst of a 10-game winning streak, Auburn has been annihilating teams with a combination of efficient three-point shooting and intense defensive pressure on the opposing team’s ball handlers. Throughout the season, the Tigers have averaged 11.4 (3rd) three-pointers made per game, which has helped them jump out to early leads against opposing teams. Many of these threes are courtesy of fast breaks that the Tigers create after steals. Auburn averages 9.4 SPG (3rd), which has given their guards the opportunity to flash out to the corners for volume three-point shooting.
This combination of long-range bombardments and physical perimeter defense has led to huge runs for Auburn, such as the 16-0 spurt they went on against Tennessee in the SEC Tournament. Up against a well-rounded UNC team, it’ll be important for Auburn to force turnovers against Coby White, who struggles with reckless dribbling at times. Another key defensive focus will be forcing Tar Heel Luke Maye, who shoots 43% from the floor as a forward, into as many contested shots as possible. Maye’s efficiency has been streaky this season, but he’s been off to a hot start in tournament play. The Tigers are led by guards Bryce Brown (15.9 PPG, 2 RPG, 1.9 APG) and Jared Harper (15.3 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 5.7 APG), but lack consistent scoring from their forwards, which could make things ugly if their backcourt is having an off night.
North Carolina has been one of the best teams in college basketball all season long. The No. 1 seeded Tar Heels breezed past Washington 81-59 on Sunday on route to their fourth Sweet 16 trip in five seasons. This UNC team has some impressive wins under their belts, including two wins over rival Duke University this season. Their roster is filled with talent, with Nassir Little (10 PPG, 4.7 RPG) and Coby White (16.1 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 4.1 APG) as possible lottery picks in the upcoming NBA draft. Little can take his team to new heights on his best nights, and his combined 39 points and 11 rebounds in UNC’s last two games have made a major difference for the Tar Heels.
A major point of emphasis against Auburn will be out-hustling the Tigers on the offensive glass, and with a rebounding margin of 9.7 (T-2nd), UNC should be up to the task. Auburn only averages 22.4 RPG (334th) as a team, so controlling the boards will limit the opportunities that Auburn’s offense will have. UNC has the talent and the size, but they have to stay out of their own way heading into this matchup. At 13 TOPG (184th), the Tar Heels have struggled to keep their ball handling tight, and their players are often baited into throwing ambitious cross-court passes that could halt their momentum against this stingy Auburn team.
Cover The Spread 365 March Madness Betting Trends
The Under is 7-3 in UNC’s last 10 games
The Tar Heels have covered the spread in 4 of their last 5 games
The Over is 7-3 in Auburn’s last 10 games
The Tigers are 2-3 ATS in their last five games
Free March Madness Prediction Auburn Tigers vs. North Carolina Tar Heels
With two top offenses going head to head in this one, it’s likely to be a high-scoring game. Auburn is the hot team right now but the Tar Heels are a much more well-rounded team. It’s likely to turn into a bit of a slugfest, with both teams bombarding each other with three-pointers. However, down the stretch when the game slows down, UNC simply has more options on offense to get a basket when they need one most.