Hoosiers Efficient 3- Point Shooting Key to Underdog Pick over Tar Heels

Ross Benjamin

Monday, March 21, 2016 1:58 PM GMT

Our NCAA Tournament analyst breaks down Friday’s East Regional Semifinal game between Indiana and North Carolina. Go inside for this early betting preview in order to get the wagering edge.

#5 Indiana (27-7) vs. #1 North Carolina (30-6)
A couple of storied basketball programs will collide on Friday in the NCAA Tournament East Region Semifinals when Indiana takes on North Carolina. The game will be played at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, and the starting time was yet to be determined at the time of this writing. These schools last met on the hardwood in 2012, and Indiana defeated North Carolina soundly 83-59. Current (Sunday 3/20) NCAA Tournament odds at TheGreek.com has North Carolina as an early 5.5 point favorite, and the posted total is a lofty 160.0.

 

The First Two Rounds
Indiana put together stellar performances in winning their first two games if “The Big Dance”. They demolished #12 seed UT Chattanooga 99-74 in their first round contest. The Hoosiers easily covered that contest as a 12.0 point favorite, and it also sailed over the total of 148.5. Indiana shot a blistering hot 64.9% from the field against an opponent with a respectable defensive resume. For an encore, Indiana knocked out #4 seed Kentucky two days later by a score of 73-67. The Hoosiers covered as a 3.5 point underdog, and it went under the total of 157.0.  

Although Indiana’s shooting wasn’t quite as efficient against Kentucky compared to the UT-Chattanooga game, it was very good nonetheless at a stellar 48.1%. Indiana has been a terrific shooting team all season. They’re #2 nationally in offensive field goal percentage (50.5%) and #5 in offensive three point shooting percentage (41.5%).  They held their first two NCAA Tournament opponents to a combined 7-33 (21.2%) from three point territory, and forced them into 31 turnovers. This will be just the seventh time in thirty-five games that Indiana will be an underdog. They went 4-2 ATS during their first six in that role.

North Carolina will look to get off to a better start than they did in their first two games of the tournament. They led #16 seed Florida Gulf Coast by just 2 points at halftime, and were up by just 4 at the break against #9 Providence. However, as we’ve seen on many occasions this season, North Carolina can wear opponents down in the second half, and that’s exactly what transpired during wins in the first two rounds. They beat Florida Gulf Coast 83-67, but failed to cover as a 23.5 point favorite, and the game barely went over the total of 149.0. Then in round two, they pulled away from Providence in the final ten minutes of that contest for an 85-66 win, and that game narrowly stayed under the total of 153.0.

North Carolina’s front line is massive, and you can make a case in terms of just pure length, they can stack up with many NBA teams. The Tar Heels blocked 14 shots in the first two rounds, and also altered several more with their intimidating size in addition to athleticism. They absolutely dominated Providence on the boards evidenced by a mammoth 42-24 rebounding advantage.

 

Final Take and Pick
North Carolina has to be attentive to detail defensively in order to keep Indiana’s three point shooting prowess in check. They were a bit fortunate against Providence. The Friars missed several wide open looks from beyond the three point line. They’ll be flirting with disaster if they allow those uncontested opportunities to occur against Indiana. North Carolina had the luxury of playing the first two rounds in Raleigh, and that’s just a 25 minute drive from their campus. If they hope to advance to “The Final Four”, they’ll have to do so without a little bit of home cooking.

Indiana is one of a handful of teams nationally that can hold their own against North Carolina on the boards. North Carolina’s front line is more athletic compared to Indiana’s big men, but the Hoosiers are fundamentally sound in that area. The ability to knock down three point shots is the great equalizer for college basketball underdogs. Indiana unequivocally qualifies in that regard. I’m taking the points in this contest for one of my Friday NCAA Tournament picks.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Indiana +5.5
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle