Gonzaga Bulldogs (8-1) @ North Carolina Tar Heels (7-2)
NCAA BB: Saturday, December 15, 2018 at 7:00 pm ET (Dean Smith Center)
Line and Odds: North Carolina -3 — Over/Under: 175
Free NCAA BB Expert Prediction Gonzaga Bulldogs vs North Carolina Tar Heels
Two of the top teams in the nation square off on a classic Saturday day and night of hoops. This is only the fourth time these two have come into each other’s crosshairs. North Carolina has won two out of the three including a win in its last meeting with Gonzaga in 2017, 65-71.
The Zags’ clear cut shining beacon has been Rui Hachimura. Hachimura’s averaging 22.2 points per game on 56.5 percent shooting while tallying 6.4 rebounds a game. But he’s in good company this season as Gonzaga averages the most points per game (94.1). Zach Norvell and Brandon Clarke follow right behind Hachimura in points per game with 17.60 and 16.90, respectively. But perhaps the best statistic we can filter out is the teams turnover-to-assist ratio. Veteran Josh Perkins leads (8.40) a group who combine for a healthy 1.757 assist/turnover margin–second in the nation behind Virginia.
A word like exceptional would be an understatement for how the Bulldogs have played so far. The AP/Coaches Poll have always been kind to the Zags but this could be quite a year, unlike any we’ve seen, for the Bulldogs. Not only do the polls truly have them seeded where they should be, kenpom.com hits the mark even more accurately in its own ranking of the team’s recent play. In team efficiency margins between its offensive and defensive outputs the squad’s ranked 6th in the nation (25.35). Through their efficiency margins, scoring totals, and contribution that spreads over the team, their opponents combine for 108.4 in offensive efficiency and 101.1 in defensive efficiency. Why does that matter? Well because there’s a small margin (7.30) between offensive and defensive outputs from their opponents. This means Tennessee, Texas A&M, Washington, Creighton, Duke, all of whom Gonzaga went 5-1 against, are certainly among the elite. In other words they’re keeping up the efficiency in games against other teams who are just as efficient and winning those games.
North Carolina has yet to lose a home game (4-0) in one of the NCAA’s toughest environments to play. UNC is lead by vet Luke Maye who is nearing a double double average in points (13.67) and rebounds (9.33). Their constant scorers, however, are Cameron Johnson and Coby White who both average about 15 points a game. They enhance that even further with precision shooting. Both players are in the 45-40-80 club (in order: field goal, 3-point, and free throw percentage). All players previously mentioned have helped include their team among the leaders in the nation across many statistics. They’re only behind Gonzaga in points per game 93.3. And they play at a high pace as they’re 3rd in field goals made (34.3) and 4th in attempts (70.1) per game. Teams will miss, however, and this is where it gets even more interesting for UNC. For offensive rebounds/gm, they’re 7th (12.8), and for defensive rebounds–2nd (30). Yet they crash the boards and clean up an astounding 37.8% of their missed shots which is good for 7th.
UNC has won big in winnable games and has lost twice to tough quality opponents in Texas (loss by 3) and Michigan (loss by 17). With that said, Kenpom has UNC ranked 7th (+24.55) in efficiency margins between their offensive and defensive outputs. The Tar Heels are a little worse than the Zags when it comes to opponents’ efficiency margins where they are +3.26, but nonetheless are getting the wins they’re expected of. A testament to these wins is their high scoring and pace. UNC gets out fast, and wants to score fast by any means. The ‘Heels, per possession, have the second-shortest amount of time holding onto the ball.
Cover the Spread 365 Betting Trends
7-3 ATS in its last 10 games
The total has gone OVER in 7 of Gonzaga’s last 10 games
3-7-1 ATS in its last 11 games on the road
1-3-1 ATS in its last 5 games
The total has gone OVER in 7 of North Carolina’s last 8 games
1-3-2 ATS in its last 6 games at home
Free NCAA BB Expert Prediction
This game gets out fast and running and both teams never look back. I don’t see much defense, and rather, a lot of quality offensive plays. Gonzaga’s not going to turn the ball over much while the ‘Heels are going to take care of the glass and make sure they get plenty of scoring opportunities. This goes down to the wire, Gonzaga loses, yet covers as North Carolina wins by one.
Pick: Gonzaga +3.0, OVER 175