NCAA Tournament East Region Betting Picks: (6) North Carolina Tar Heels vs. (11) Providence Friars

james McAdoo-north-carolina-12North Carolina vs Providence
Time: FRI 7:20 PM ET, Mar 21, 2014
Spread: UNC -4

Betting odds courtesy of Bovada

North Carolina finished the season 23-9 with a 13-5 mark in ACC play. The Tarheels lost its past two contests to Duke and Pittsburgh, and will face a tough Big East opponent in 23-11 Providence in opening round play. UNC enters the game as four point favorites according to college basketball oddsmakers at Bovada.

The Tarheels are led by the duo of Marcus Paige and James Michael McAdoo. Paige is just a sophomore but the 6’1″ guard led the team in scoring (17.4 points per game) and assists (4.3 per game). He shoots the ball well from deep, and connected on 39.1 percent of his three-point attempts this season. Though the Tarheels lost both games, he lit up both Duke and Pittsburgh, scoring 24 and 27, respectively while hitting seven threes in the games. The Tarheels are 9-2 when Paige scores at least 20 points.

McAdoo has been a little bit disappointing this season, as many had projected him to be a potential lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Most mocks now show McAdoo going in the second round, but this could be his chance to turn that all around. McAdoo averaged 14.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game over the season, but for a 6’9″ power forward he really should be more dominant around the basket. His field goal percentage was just 46.1 percent, and he did not shoot well from the stripe either (53.7 percent).

McAdoo shows flashes of what looks like extra-worldly talent, just to fade into the background for long stretches of play, which is something that really should have been checked by his junior season. He hasn’t improved over last year much at all, though he has cut down on his excessive turnovers. McAdoo has been consistent of late, but disappeared on the boards in the loss to Duke on Mar 8, getting no rebounds at all despite playing 24 minutes. Typically, UNC is a good rebounding team (9th in the nation, 39.8 per game), but it can’t afford to have its power forward not getting any at all.

Providence closed the season with three straight wins, including a 65-58 victory over nationally ranked Creighton. The Friars compiled just a 3-6 record against NCAA tournament teams, but it held its own (10-8) in the Big East. The Friars are a bit short on depth, with a seven man rotation that sees all five starters playing 30 minutes or greater.

Bryce Cotton, a 6’1″ guard, averaged 39.9 minutes per game over the course of the season and led the team in points (21.4) and assists (5.8). Cotton is in his senior season and he’s played big minutes in all but his freshman year. In Providence’s 80-74 victory over Seton Hall on Mar 14, Cotton posted a double-double, scoring 18 points and dropping 10 assists. The Friars are 15-9 when Cotton scores 20 points or more in a game.

PROV Trends: UNDER 9-2 in last 11 non-conference games; UNDER 9-2 in last 11 neutral site games; 7-2 ATS in last 9 overall.

UNC Trends: OVER 7-2 in last 9 neutral site games; 7-3 ATS in last 10 vs Big East; 9-4 ATS in last 13 Friday games.

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