Oregon is a 4.5-point underdog to top-seeded North Carolina in the second semifinal game Saturday (8:35 p.m. ET). The Ducks will need hot shooting from outside to upend the taller Tar Heels. Pick and preview this way.
Final Four, Saturday, 8:49 pm E.T
NAT TV - CBS
Welcome back to the Final Four Oregon! It’s the Ducks’ first appearance since the inaugural event in 1939. They would not have made it this far without the heroics of
“Mr. March,” Tyler Dorsey. The sophomore guard has scored 20 points or more in his last seven games, all on the neutral hardwood. Over the last two seasons, Oregon is 22-1 SU (12-11 ATS) when Dorsey hits three 3-pointers or more in a contest. The Ducks are shooting 41 percent from behind the arc since the start of the Pac-12 tournament, and you can bet head coach Dana Altman will be looking to feed his hottest player from deep often.
UNC is determined to avenge last year’s buzzer-beating loss to Villanova in the championship game, in this, a record 20th Final Four appearance. The Tar Heels have owned Pac-12 schools recently. In the last decade, they are 7-0 SU and 6-1 ATS. Tipping off as 7.7 –point chalk on average, UNC is covering the spread by a whopping 10.3 points per contest. A neutral site has hosted six of the seven games, including the program’s only tussle with Oregon in this span. In 2008, the Tar Heels routed Oregon 98-69 as 17.5-point favorites. All-time, UNC is 4-0 SU in the matchup.
This is the game where Chris Boucher’s absence will hurt Oregon the most. Altman’s top defensive player, Boucher led the nation in blocks (2.5 per game) before tearing his ACL in the Pac-12 tournament. One of the best paint patrollers in the conference, the Ducks will likely struggle underneath with the size and length of UNC’s frontcourt trio comprising Justin Jackson (6-foot-8), Isaiah Hicks (6-foot-9) and Kennedy Meeks (6-foot 10). This wasn’t an issue against the smaller lineup of Kansas. Oregon’s matchup-zone allowed Jordan Bell to patrol the rim, where he swatted eight shots in the upset. Oregon had seven blocks total in the first three games of the NCAA tournament.
Expect the Tarheels to have the edge on the glass. Oregon struggles most against teams yielding few offensive rebounds on the year. Against foes allowing fewer than 8.3 per game, the Ducks went 5-9-1 ATS (13-2 SU), scoring 2.1 points below their projected team total. Against opponents allowing more, they went 17-4 ATS (18-3 SU), averaging 2.6 points more than expected. The Tar Heels yield 7.9 per contest and maintain a 76.8 percent defensive rebounding rate, 28th highest nationally.
The numbers on this matchup are very tight but consider laying the points with UNC at -4.5 for your college basketball picks. Oregon will miss some vital second chance opportunities in the paint.