North Carolina Tar Heels Vs Creighton Blue Jays: NCAA Tournament Betting Preview

2012 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Third Round
#8 Creighton Blue Jays vs #1 North Carolina Tar Heels
Greensboro Coliseum – Greensboro, North Carolina
Sunday, March 18, 2012, 5:15 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Opening Line: North Carolina -9
Current Line: North Carolina -8
Opening Total: 159
Current Total: 159
Opening Money Line: UNC – 500 / Creighton +400
Current Money Line: UNC -410 / Creighton +330

North Carolina and Creighton meet Sunday in the Midwest third round in Greensboro. The Tar Heels are 8 point favorites.

The Creighton Blue Jays escaped with a 58-57 win against Alabama Friday in the second round. Despite Alabama slowing down the potent Creighton offense, The Blue Jays were able to advance to the third round. The 29-5 Blue Jays are coached by Greg McDermott, and have won 8 games in a row including the Missouri Valley Conference Championship game. Creighton finished second in the MVC regular season behind Wichita St.

Creighton will take on Midwest #1 seed North Carolina Sunday in Greensboro in the third round. The winner will play either Ohio or South Florida in the regional semifinals in St. Louis next week.  The Tar Heels cruised to a 77-58 win over Vermont Friday. It was a victory made even sweeter by arch-rival Duke being upset by #15 seed Lehigh in the game following UNC’s win on the same court. The 30-5 Tar Heels coached by Roy Williams, won the ACC regular season title but lost in the ACC Championship game to Florida St. It snapped a 9 game winning streak for UNC. The Tar Heels lead the series 2-0 against Creighton, but the two schools haven’t played since 1970.

Creighton has wins over UAB, Iowa, San Diego St, Nebraska, Tulsa, Long Beach St and Northwestern. In conference, Creighton split with Missouri St, Wichita St, Northern Iowa, and Evansville, but swept everyone else. The Blue Jays also have a loss to St. Joseph’s.

North Carolina has wins over Michigan St, UNC-Asheville, Mississippi Valley St, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Evansville, Long Beach St, Texas, Boston College, Miami twice, Virginia Tech, NC State 3 times, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Maryland 3 times, Virginia twice, Clemson, and Duke. The Tar Heels have losses to UNLV, Kentucky, Duke, and Florida St twice.

Creighton is outscoring opponents 80-70 this season The Blue Jays are shooting 50.9% from the field, including 42.5% from 3 point range. The Blue Jays are in the top 10 nationally in scoring, FG percentage, and 3 point percentage.  Creighton makes 73.2% of their free throws. The Blue Jays average 36.2 rebounds a game, with a rebounding margin of +6.1. Creighton averages 17.9 assists, 12.3 turnovers, 4.8 steals, and 2.3 blocks a game. Creighton is second in assists nationally. Blue Jay opponents are shooting 43.8% from the field, including 35.6% from 3 point  range. Creighton forces 10.4 turnovers a game.

Creighton guard Doug McDermott averages 23.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.1 assists a game. He leads the team in scoring and rebounding, and is #3 nationally in scoring. McDermott makes 49.5% of his 3 point shots. He is the son of Creighton’s coach and is a second team All-American. Antoine Young averages 12.5 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 4.5 assists a game. Gregory Echenique averages 9.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks a game to lead the team. Grant Gibbs averages 7.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1 steal a game. He leads the team in assists and steals. Jahenns Manigat averages 6.6 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.5 assists a game. He makes 47% of his 3 pointers.  Ethan Wragge averages 6.4 points, and 2.8 rebounds. Besides Center Echinique all of the top scorers make at least 32.3% of their 3 point attempts.

North Carolina is outscoring opponents 82-67 this season. The Tar Heels are #2 in the country in scoring. North Carolina shoots 46.1% from the field and 34% from 3 point range. UNC makes 68.2% from the free throw line. The Tar Heels lead the nation in rebounding with 45.1 rebounds a game, with a rebounding margin of +10.8. The Tar Heels average 17.4 assists, 11.8 turnovers, 6.8 steals, and 5.6 blocks a game. UNC is 4th nationally in assists. UNC opponents are shooting 39.3% from the field, and 31.9% from 3 point range. The Heels force 13.4 turnovers a game on defense.

UNC forward Harrison Barnes averages 17.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1.1 steals a game. He makes 37.7% of his 3 point attempts. Tyler Zeller averages 16.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1.3 blocks a game. John Henson averages 13.8 points, 10.1 rebounds to lead the team, 1.3 assists, and 2.9 blocks a game to lead the team. He is questionable with a wrist injury he suffered during the ACC tournament last week. Reggie Bullock averages 8.6 points, and 4.9 rebounds a game. He makes 37.5% of his three pointers. Kendall Marshall leads the Heels in assists with 9.7 a game and  in steals with 1.2 a game. Dexter Strickland is out for the season with a torn ACL. Guard Leslie McDonald is out indefinitely with a knee injury.

UNC is 19-15 ATS and the total is 17-17 this season. Creighton is 15-14-1 ATS and the total is 15-13-2 this season. The Blue Jays are 5-0 ATS as an underdog, and as an underdog of 7-12.5 points, 24-5 in Sunday games, 11-3-1 in non-conference games, 2-5 as a neutral site underdog, 1-3-1 as an NCAA tournament underdog, 1-5-1 overall, 1-6-1 after a straight up win, 1-7-1 against teams with winning records, and 0-4-1 in NCAA tournament games. The Tar Heels are 12-3 as an NCAA tournament favorite including,  9-0 ATS as a  favorite of 7-12.5 points,  4-1 in non-conference games, 12-4 in NCAA tournament games, 8-3 as a favorite, against teams with winning records, and overall, 5-2 after a cover, and 6-20 in Sunday games.

Creighton and Alabama scored 115 total combined points in their game Friday. The way North Carolina and Creighton like to run, they could eclipse that by halftime. That might be a slight exaggeration, but defense will more than likely be an after thought in this game. North Carolina isn’t quite as dominant if Henson doesn’t play, but they still have plenty of depth and talent. I think Creighton keeps it close for a while before North Carolina pulls away late.

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