Last Updated: 2019-03-23
The top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels will look for a better start on Sunday, when they square-off with the No. 9 University of Washington Huskies at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio in an afternoon contest.
North Carolina opened as 10.5-point favorites and the line has climbed to 11.5 on pretty good two-way action, while the total opened 150.5 and is now down to 148 even though we’ve seen two-thirds of the early wagers coming in on the over.
The Tar Heels struggled early on against an improved Iona team before turning it on in the second half and posting an 88-73 victory. North Carolina trailed 38-33 at the half, but came out strong, going on a 30-11 run in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Iona shot 50% from the field on 2-pointers, but only attempted 14, while throwing up 41 3-pointers, which really wasn’t a bad game plan when you think about it and kept them in the game longer than nearly anybody expected.
The Huskies didn’t have the same difficulty, taking control of their game against Utah State in the latter portion of the first half and then holding off a few comeback attempts before Utah State packed it in down the stretch. Washington held Utah State to 35% shooting, but also forced 21 turnovers, which combined with shooting 58.8% from 3-point range was far too much for Aggies to overcome.
Washington: Based on their numbers, the Huskies are just below average offensively, as they average .2 fewer points than their opponents allow, but they also take four fewer field goals per game than their foes typically allow, which is a result of their style, as they rank No. 259 in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted pace ratings. UW shoots the ball a little better than average, but the Huskies will only go as far as their defense takes them in this one, as the Tar Heels are probably the second-best offense Washington has seen this year, with only Gonzaga ahead of them. The Huskies are good at forcing turnovers and will need a few since Carolina is solid at grabbing offensive rebounds and the Huskies allow their fair share of them, so forcing misses may not be good enough.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels are strong on offense and defense, but the offense has to get the nod as being the best part of Carolina’s game. UNC is ranked No. 6 in Pomeroy’s offensive ratings, while the Tar Heels average 17 more points than opponents allow. Carolina only allows 1.6 fewer points than opponents average, but the opposition is getting off more field goal attempts due to Carolina’s preferred method of play, which to force the issue and push the tempo, as the Tar Heels rank No. 5 in Pomeroy’s pace ratings.
Game: Both teams are going to come out and try to do what they best, but it’s more imperative for the Huskies to keep the game at a reasonable pace. Washington can’t run with Carolina, but the Tar Heels have the talent to win a slower-paced game.
Pick: Under 148
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Have to believe UW is smart enough to know they can’t expect to play into North Carolina’s hands and come away with a victory and will do all they can to slow it down early on and as long as they can stay within striking distance. If Washington gets off to a slow start, it will be much tougher for them to claw their way back into the game than it would be for North Carolina, who can score points in a hurry. The Tar Heels are a better defensive team than they show at times and have to believe with the stakes being a little higher, we’ll see them play on both sides of the ball.