NCAA Basketball Picks: North Carolina vs. Kansas

David Lawrence

Saturday, March 23, 2013 4:39 PM UTC

Saturday, Mar. 23, 2013 4:39 PM UTC

The North Carolina Tar Heels are going to try to win Sunday's round of 32 NCAA tournament game for themselves, not just head coach Roy Williams.

College Basketball Betting: North Carolina vs. Kansas Picks

North Carolina can win because…

It can shoot well enough to win and because Kansas is not clicking at the moment. First off, North Carolina owns some very dangerous shooters. People making their sports picks saw P.J. Hairston hit six three-point field goals on March 17 in an immensely entertaining ACC Tournament championship game against Miami. North Carolina hit 13 threes that day, and in the round of 64 of the NCAA tournament this past Friday against Villanova, the Tar Heels hit 11 more triples. They are spreading the floor, playing small ball, and shooting confidently, a great recipe for beating Kansas if it can be sustained for 40 minutes.

Why is the matchup with Kansas a matchup that North Carolina can handle on the NCAA basketball odds? Look at Friday's game between Western Kentucky and Kansas. The 16th-seeded Hilltoppers almost stunned the top-seeded Jayhawks, but they missed 28 of their first 32 shots in the second half before making a late mini-rally to almost pull off the massive upset. Western Kentucky continued to challenge Kansas big man Jeff Withey near the rim, but Withey swatted away several shots and altered many more. North Carolina won't make this mistake; an offense reliant on the three-point shot is risky, but against Kansas, it makes sense. The Tar Heels won't challenge Withey; they'll try to shoot Kansas out of the building, and if they make enough threes, they'll be able to get the job done.

The other point to realize here is that Kansas played poorly against Western Kentucky. The Jayhawks were crushed on the offensive glass, 13-4, and did not hit a single three-point shot. They committed 17 turnovers and got wretched performanes from their guards. If these things don't change very much, North Carolina will have an extremely good chance of winning.

Kansas can win because…

The Jayhawks know how to shrug off bad performances in the NCAA tournament when they manage to survive them. Yes, Kansas has not been able to win a number of NCAA tournament games when it has played poorly. The Jayhawks were unable to beat Virginia Commonwealth in 2011. They were unable to beat Northern Iowa in 2010. They were unable to beat UCLA in 2007 or Bradley in 2006 or Bucknell in 2005. However, when they've endured bad performances and have managed to advance, they have played a lot better in their next game.

Kansas struggled against Davidson in the Elite Eight in 2008 but then flourished against North Carolina in the Final Four. Last year, Kansas played horribly in the round of 32 against Purdue and handicappers bet against them with their NCAA basketball picks in their next game but they were actually very solid against North Carolina State in the Sweet 16. If patterns hold, the Jayhawks should be able to clean up all of their problems against Western Kentucky and play with much more focus and resolve against the Tar Heels. Kansas, if playing at its best, will beat any version of North Carolina that shows up on Sunday in Kansas City.

Outlook & Prediction:

This feels like a close game because Kansas' guards have not been playing with confidence. However, Jeff Withey, KU's big man, is going to be such a huge factor on defense and on the glass in this game. North Carolina will not be able to rebound against him with the game on the line, so take Kansas with your sports picks.

NCAAB Picks: Kansas at Bovada

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