2015 NCAA Tournament
West Region Third Round
#4 North Carolina Tar Heels vs #5 Arkansas Razorbacks
Veterans Memorial Arena – Jacksonville, Florida
Saturday, March 21, 2015, 8:40 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Opening Line: North Carolina -4 1/2
Current Line: North Carolina -4 1/2
Opening Total: 157 1/2
Current Total: 158
Opening Money Line: UNC -190 / Arkansas +160
Current Money Line: UNC -200 / Arkansas +170
The 25-11 North Carolina Tar Heels and 27-8 Arkansas Razorbacks escaped with narrow wins over plucky upstarts in the second round of the West Region Thursday. Now the two teams meet in the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time overall and first time since 2008. The winner will face either the #1 seed Wisconsin Badgers or #8 Oregon Ducks in the regional semifinal next week in Los Angeles.
North Carolina leads the series overall against Arkansas 4-3 but the teams are 2-2 in NCAA Tournament games. The Tar Heels won the last meeting 108-77 in the 2008 tournament. The last 4 meetings have come in the NCAA Tournament and the teams have played all 8 games at neutral sites.
Arkansas finished second in the SEC behind undefeated Kentucky at 13-5. The Razorbacks lost to Kentucky 78-63 in the SEC Championship game. Arkansas beat Wofford 56-53 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday. The Razorbacks are making their 30th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and first since 2008. Arkansas won the national title in 1994. Arkansas went 4-6 against NCAA Tournament teams this season.
North Carolina went 11-7 in the ACC and finished in fifth place. The Tar Heels lost to Notre Dame 90-82 in the ACC Championship game. North Carolina beat Harvard 67-65 in the second round Thursday. UNC is making their 46th trip to the tournament and 11th straight. The Tar Heels have five national titles the last in 2009. UNC went 9-10 against NCAA Tournament teams this season.
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Arkansas is coached by Mike Anderson. The Razorbacks have home losses to Ole Miss and LSU, road losses to Iowa State, Clemson, Tennessee, Florida, and Kentucky, plus a neutral site loss to Kentucky in the SEC tournament. Arkansas has home wins over Wake Forest, North Texas, Iona, Dayton, Milwaukee, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Missouri and Texas A&M, plus neutral site wins over Tennessee and Georgia in the SEC Tournament, along with road wins over SMU, Georgia, Missouri, Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi state and South Carolina. Arkansas is 17-17 ATS and the total is 18-15 this season. The Razorbacks was a 7.5 point favorite against Wofford and the total was 136.
North Carolina is coached by Roy Williams. The Tar Heels have neutral site losses to Butler in a tournament in the Bahamas and Notre Dame in the ACC tournament, home losses to Iowa, Notre Dame, Virginia, NC State and Duke, plus road losses at Kentucky, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Duke. The Tar Heels have key wins over Davidson in Charlotte, UCLA and Florida in the Bahamas, Ohio State in Chicago, Boston College, Louisville, and Virginia in the ACC Tournament home wins over East Carolina, UAB, William & Mary, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Syracuse, and Georgia Tech, along with road wins over Clemson, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Boston College, Miami and Georgia Tech. North Carolina is 19-16-1 ATS and the total is 19-14-1 this season. The Tar Heels were 9.5 point favorites against Harvard and the total was 137.
Arkansas is outscoring teams 77-70 this season. The Razorbacks are #19 nationally in scoring. Arkansas is shooting 44.8% from the field and 35.1% from 3 point range. The Razorbacks make 72.1% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 42.7% from the field and 35.1% from 3 point range. Arkansas averages 35.9 rebounds per game and opponents average 31.9 per game. The Razorbacks average 16.1 assists, 11.7 turnovers, 7.7 steals and 4.7 blocks per game. Opponents are averaging 12.4 assists, 15.7 turnovers, 5.5 steals and 2.9 blocks per game.
Bobby Portis averages 17.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1 steal and 1.4 blocks per game. Michael Qualls averages 15.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. Rashad Madden averages 9.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game. Alandise Harris averages 7.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. Anthlon Bell averages 7.8 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. Four other players average at least 10 minutes a game.
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North Carolina is outscoring teams 78-69 this season. The Tar Heels are #18 nationally in scoring. North Carolina is shooting 47.1% from the field including 32.8% from 3 point range. UNC is #38 nationally in field goal percentage. The Tar Heels make 68.9% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 39.4% from the field and 30% from 3 point range. UNC is in the top 35 nationally in both categories. The Tar Heels average 42.2 rebounds per game and allow 29.6. UNC is #2 nationally in rebounding. The Tar Heels average 17.8 assists, 12.5 turnovers, 6.8 steals and 4.5 blocks per game. Opponents average 12.6 assists, 12.4 turnovers, 6.7 steals and 4.4 blocks per game.
UNC guard Marcus Paige averages 13.3 points, 3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Forward Kennedy Meeks averages 12.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1 assist and 1.4 blocks per game. Forward Brice Johnson averages 12.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. Justin Jackson averages 9.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. J.P. Tokoto averages 8.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Four other Tar Heels average at least 12 minutes per game. Forwards Sasha Seymore and Desmond Hubert are out for the season.
Arkansas is 7-15 ATS in neutral site games, 3-7 overall, 2-5 against teams with winning records, 3-8 after failing to cover, 1-6 after a straight up win, in NCAA Tournament teams, and 1-6 against ACC teams.
North Carolina is 4-1 ATS after failing to cover, and in non-conference games, 6-2 in neutral site games, 18-7-1 against SEC teams, 4-9-1 after a straight up win, 4-11-1 against teams with winning records, and 0-4 in NCAA Tournament games.
There have been a lot of NCAA Tournament games played in the 50’s so far. This will not be one of those games. This should be a track meet in the high 70’s or low 80’s. I think these teams are pretty evenly matched, but i like the Tar Heels to win a close game and advance.