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North Carolina vs. Harvard - NCAA Tournament - 3/19/15 Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Harvard Crimson (22-7) at North Carolina Tar Heels (24-11)

College Basketball: Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 7:15 pm (Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena)

The Line: North Carolina Tar Heels -9.5 -- Over/Under: See the Latest Odds

TV: TNT HD

The (13) Harvard Crimson and (4) North Carolina Tar Heels will battle at Veterans Memorial Arena this Thursday night in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Harvard Crimson finished the regular season with a 22-7 (11-3 Ivy) on the season and earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament by defeating the Yale Bulldogs 53-51. Harvard has been no stranger to the NCAA Tournament and has one of the better players in the country in Wesley Saunders. On the season, the Crimson have been led by Wesley Saunders (16.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 4.2 apg, 1.8 spg) and Siyani Chambers (9.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 4.3 apg, 1.5 spg). Harvard is ranked 54th in the RPI Standings and 81st in the BPI Standings. Harvard is averaging 64.2 ppg (ranked 257th) on 43.5% shooting (ranked 175th). The Crimson average 11.8 turnovers per game and 12.9 apg. Defensively, Harvard is holding their opponents to an average of 57.2 ppg (ranked 12th) on 39.9% shooting (ranked 45th).

North Carolina vs. Harvard - NCAA Tournament - 3/19/15 Pick, Odds, and Prediction

USA TODAY Sports

The 19th ranked North Carolina Tar Heels finished the regular season with a 24-11 (11-7 ACC) record and finished 2nd in the ACC after falling to the 11th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish 90-82 in the ACC Championship. North Carolina displays one of the most dangerous offensives in the country, however, can struggle at times defensively. On the season, North Carolina has been led by Marcus Paige (13.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 4.6 apg, 1.6 spg) and Brice Johnson (13.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.1 bpg). The Tar Heels are ranked 12th in the RPI Standings and 10th in the BPI Standings. North Carolina is averaging 77.9 ppg (ranked 17th) on 47.5% shooting (ranked 26th). The Tar Heels average 17.7 apg and pull down 41.0 total rpg. Defensively, North Carolina is allowing 68.4 ppg (ranked 238th) on 39.8% shooting (ranked 41st).

The Crimson are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 vs. the ACC however, just 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games overall. The Tar Heels are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a ATS loss and 6-1 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games.

Harvard was able once again able to get into the NCAA Tournament however, didn’t run away with the Ivy League as many expected and needed a big upset by Dartmouth just to have the chance to play Yale for the automatic bid. North Carolina has come a long way this season and although their defensive can still be an issue, they are one of the strongest offensive teams in the tournament and have the size to make a deep run. Although Harvard has Saunders and Chambers back for another run, this Harvard team is just not as talented as the teams we saw beat New Mexico and Cincinnati in the last two NCAA Tournaments. North Carolina is going to own the glass in this one and I just don’t see the Crimson offense being able to keep up with the Tar Heels in this one. I’m taking North Carolina to cover in this one. 

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North Carolina Tar Heels -9.5

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