Iona vs. North Carolina - 3/22/19 NCAA March Madness Pick, Odds, and Prediction
Iona at North Carolina
Friday, March 22, 2019 at 8:20 PM (Nationwide Arena)
North Carolina Tar Heels -22.5 -- Over/Under: 166
The 16-seed Iona Gaels and 1-seed North Carolina Tar Heels will square off at Nationwide Arena this Friday night in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament.
The 16-seed Iona Gaels were expected to take a step-back this season and although the Gaels finished with just a 17-15 record, the Gaels still showed that they are the team to beat in the MAAC as Iona earned their 4th straight NCAA appearance after winning their 4th straight MAAC title. Iona started off the season with just a 2-9 record and had a slow start in conference play, however, the Gaels and their high scoring offense started to figure things out as the end of season as they currently are riding a 10-game winning streak. Iona earned the top-seed in the MAAC Tournament and had no trouble securing the automatic bid after defeating the Monmouth Hawks by an 81-60 margin in the Finals.
On the season, Iona is averaging 76.8 ppg on 45.3% shooting from the field. The Gaels are averaging 8.8 three-pointers per game on 35.1% shooting from beyond the arc. Offensively, Iona has been led by E.J. Crawford (17.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.8 apg), Rickey McGill (15.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 5.0 apg, 2.3 spg), Tajuan Agee (13.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.0 spg), Tajuan Agee (13.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.0 spg), and Asante Gist (12.4 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.3 apg).
Defensively, Iona is allowing their opponents to average 75.6 ppg on 44.5% shooting from the field. The Gaels have a rebound margin of -2.1 and a turnover margin of 0.9.
The 1-seed North Carolina Tar Heels had another great season and finished their regular season with an overall record of 27-6 (16-2 ACC). North Carolina had some difficulty in their non-conference schedule as they picked losses agianst Michigan, Texas, and Kentucky, however, the Tar Heels and their offense got better and better as the season went on and was outstanding in ACC play. North Carolina earned the 2-seed in the AAC Tournament and despite losing to Duke in an exciting 74-73 battle in the Semifinals, the Tar Heels showed enough to the NCAA committee to still earn a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
On the season, North Carolina is averaging 86.1 ppg on 46.4% shooting from the field. The Tar Heels are averaging 8.8 three-pointers per game on 36.5% shooting from beyond the arc. Offensively, North Carolina has been led by Cameron Johnson (16.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.2 spg), Coby White (16.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.2 apg), Luke Maye (14.7 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.4 apg), and Nassir Little (9.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg).
Defensively, North Carolina is allowing their opponents to average 72.9 ppg on 41.3% shooting from the field. The Tar Heels have a rebound margin of 9.7 and a turnover margin of 1.1.
The Gaels are 8-1 ATS in their last 9 games following a straight up win and 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games vs. ACC opponents. The Tar Heels are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games overall and 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following an ATS win.
Iona has been playing some of their best basketball of the season as of late, however, this is probably one of the worst match-ups the Gaels could have drawn as they’re facing a North Carolina team that can score the ball as well as anyone in all of College Basketball. Iona’s offense might be able to a little bit of damage, however, I just don’t see how the Gaels and their 276th ranked scoring defense will be able to even remotely slow down the Tar Heels. North Carolina had a disappointing showing last year in the NCAA Tournament and as I think they’ll come out strong this year, I think the Tar Heels will put up between 90-100 points in this one and cover this large spread. Good Luck!