College Basketball Betting Free Play: North Carolina Tar Heels at Gonzaga Bulldogs
CBB FREE PICK: North Carolina Tar Heels at Gonzaga Bulldogs
#676 UNDER 146.5 (Wednesday, December 18 @ 9 pm EST)
Last Sunday was a perfect opportunity for North Carolina to right the ship. The Tar Heels had just finished a brutal four-game stretch of top 20 teams including no. 1-ranked Ohio State and had an entire week to prep for a home game against Wofford. The Terriers are a quality mid-major outfit but they certainly don’t defend at the level of a Virginia or Ohio State. Butler, Missouri, and South Florida — three defensive-mind teams — netted a combined 1.18 points per possession vs. Wofford en route to three wins by 19, 19, and 14. Again, the stage was set for UNC to pop for 80+ and cruise to an easy victory. Instead, point guard Cole Anthony was ruled out right before the game and the Tar Heels lost 68-64.
Now without Anthony, North Carolina must travel to Spokane to take on one of the best teams in the country. In terms of in-game matchups, this is far from ideal. The Tar Heels don’t shoot many threes, and when they do, they rarely go in (27%) meaning scoring inside and grabbing offensive rebounds is a must if they are going to compete. The problem is Gonzaga’s front line features three players that are 6-10. The easy buckets UNC needs aren’t going to be easy to come by.
North Carolina’s saving grace has actually been its defense. The Tar Heels protect the rim (19th in 2-pt. defense, 27th in block pct.) and do a decent job of keeping teams out of transition. No matter how bad things get, it’s unlikely Roy Williams is going to stray from his philosophy or transition, up-tempo basketball. But you’ll notice that UNC’s last four games have averaged only 64.5 possessions per game. Some of that was the opposition’s style but some of it was also that UNC doesn’t have the weaponry to get clean looks early in the shot clock. And without their starting point guard, we can expect plenty of half court sets tonight. Play the under.