North Carolina (30-7) vs. Kentucky (32-5) Prediction & Game Preview
NCAA Tournament: North Carolina vs. Kentucky fearless prediction and game preview.
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Date: Sunday, March 26
Game Time: 5:05 pm ET
Venue: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
What’s the deal with Kentucky?
It’s really, really not fair that the SEC champion – both in the regular season and tournament – named Kentucky has to go through this UCLA team and then this North Carolina team just to, potentially, get to this Kansas team, and that’s just to get to the national championship.
But that doesn’t seem like that big a deal, especially when De’Aaron Fox is cranking up 39 points against the Bruins and Malik Monk hits 4-of-9 from three on the way to 21 points.
The Wildcats were on fire against UCLA, connecting on 49% of their shots and nailing 44% from three, getting control of the game and never letting it go.
Forcing 13 turnovers and giving up six didn’t hurt, either.
The young team is more than coming together at the right time – it’s improving. Normally bad this year from three – not anymore. Now it’ll need to crank it up even more.
What’s the deal with North Carolina?
Oh yeah … and North Carolina is still good.
South Carolina and the SEC will get all the love for a short span, and Duke might have won the ACC Tournament, and Kentucky and Kansas are looking fantastic, and Florida’s floating-three is the One Shining Moment, but the Tar Heels are lurking.
Somehow, this No. 1 seed might be getting overlooked in terms of national attention, but the team is loaded.
Beating Butler is better than it looked – the Bulldogs are a 4 seed, after all – with the firepower coming from 50 points combined from Justin Jackson and Joel Berry in a dominant 92-80 blowout. When you shoot 54.4% from the field, you’re going to be okay.
The Tar Heels only hit 21-of-33 free throws, passed the ball around well with 22 assists, and out rebounded the Bulldogs 38-26. But that’s what they do.
They’re just okay on free throws, they among the nation’s leaders in assists, and they lead the nation in rebounds.
What’s Going To Happen
At some point, isn’t it going to matter that Kentucky can’t really shoot from three – outside of anything Monk does – and is mediocre on the free throw line? Maybe not against the Tar Heels.
This should be a dead even game, but UNC won’t be able to own the offensive boards like it did against Butler, and Kentucky won’t be as careful with the ball as it was against UCLA.
This is a national title-level matchup that shouldn’t be just a regional final, but that’s the deal. North Carolina might not be quite as spectacular, but it should be just a wee bit better defensively, and just a wee bit better from three.
Demand a classic.
Fearless Prediction & Line
North Carolina 78, Kentucky 75
Line: North Carolina -2.5, o/u: 160
ATS Confidence: 2
5: Leave Vegas richer in body, mind & spirit
1: Leave the sportsbook, get tickets for Menopause The Musical or Puppetry of the Penis