NCAA Tournament Point Spreads: (10) Syracuse Orange vs. (1) North Carolina Tar Heels

North Carolina is a heavy favorite over Syracuse in Final Four action on TBS.
North Carolina is a heavy favorite over Syracuse in Final Four action on TBS.

10 SYR vs 1 UNC
Time: 7:49 PM CT (TBS)
Spread: UNC -9.5
Total: 144

Betting odds c/o 5dimes

The No. 10 seeded Syracuse Orange are the lowest seed to advance to a Final Four. But according to college basketball oddsmakers that Cinderella run will end here as it faces the North Carolina Tar Heels. UNC is 9.5 point favorites in the game which will air at 7:49 Central on TBS.

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Senior forward Brice Johnson set a Tar Heel record for blocks in a tournament game with eight swats. He was seemingly everywhere, displaying his length and athleticism to deter the Eagles from ever entering the paint.

Johnson is projected to be a high lottery pick in the 2016 NBA draft, and it is easy to see why the 6’9” senior is so coveted. He is basically a version of Josh Smith that actually plays intelligent basketball. Johnson uses his athleticism to get the good looks a player of his caliber should. He averaged 16.6 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.6 blocks/steals per game this season.

And he did all of that in just 27 minutes a game.

Johnson also came up big in the ACC tournament final with 12 points, nine rebounds and five assists in 33 minutes, going an ultra-efficient 6 of 8 from the field. Even in the win over FGCU, he shot 7 of 11 from the field. He does not need constant touches to be effective and can wreak havoc on the offensive glass if teams go to aggressive double teams.

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North Carolina also gets big contributions from Joel Berry II, Justin Jackson and Marcus Paige. The trio all averaged 12 points a piece in the regular season, and Berry had a nice game against FGCU with 14 points and six rebounds while hitting 6 of 14 from the field (though he made just 1 of 7 from three-point range).

Berry averages 1.5 steals per game and he can shoot the ball reasonably well, given his 43.5 percent field goal shooting and 38 percent mark on 4.5 threes attempted per game. North Carolina averaged 82 points per game as a team this season while shooting a collective 47.7 percent from the field. The team’s 31.5 percent three-point shooting is troubling, but UNC should be able to close out games at the line where it shoots 73.8 percent as a team.

Syracuse used a 29-8 run to close the game against Virginia, emerging as 68-62 victors over the No. 1 seeded Cavaliers. Syracuse won the second half 47-27 to overcome the 14 point deficit it faced at the half.

Freshman point guard Malachi Richardson came through with a huge game, scoring 23 points and grabbing seven rebounds, He had scored just seven points per game in the previous two wins over Gonzaga and Middle Tennessee. He had 21 points on 5 of 12 shooting in the win over Dayton in round of 64 action. He has hit a three in 18 of the last 19 games.


Richardson averaged 13.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game for the Orange this season. But he shot just 36 percent from the floor and turned it over 2.1 times per game. He is not the most stable point guard and his 72 percent free throw shooting is hardly the mark Syracuse needs if the game gets close.

Senior forward Malcolm Brogdon struggled in the Elite 8 win over Virginia. He shot just 4 of 13 from the field and 0 of 4 from three en route to 11 points, six assists and four rebounds. He had scored 10, 23, and 20 respectively in the wins over Dayton, Middle Tennessee and Gonzaga. In the win over Gonzaga he as just 8 of 23 from the field.

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Brogdon shot 46.8 percent from the field and 40 percent from three this season, and the Orange need a big game from its top scorer. Another 11 point performance will not be enough against the Tar Heels. In fact, it could be said that Syracuse needs to play something close to a perfect game to emerge as victors. The near double-digit spread is appropriate but Syracuse has already surprised Virginia and appears to be a legitimate threat to take the title, even if it is the underdog among teams remaining.

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