North Carolina and Arkansas both narrowly avoided upsets Thursday, the Heels beating Harvard by a bucket, the Hogs topping Wofford by a 3-pointer. But they survived, and now meet in a West Region battle Saturday night down in Jacksonville.
Heels-Hogs Betting Odds
The NCAA Tournament odds opened this game with North Carolina favored by 4.5 points, with a total of 158. In the early betting the line was holding steady, while the total dropped to 157.
Going by Sagarin's PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com North Carolina should be favored by 5.5 points for this game.
Those who like Arkansas to win this game outright could get +175 on the moneyline at 5Dimes.
North Carolina reached Saturday by nipping Harvard Thursday night 67-65. The Heels led by a dozen at the half, and by 16 early in the second half, let that advantage slip away and trailed by a bucket with just over a minute to go, then scored the last four points of the game to avoid the upset.
Carolina shot 55 percent from the floor, and held the Crimson to 38 percent FG shooting, but also committed 18 turnovers. Those turnovers had a lot to do with the Heels coming up short against the spread as nine-point favorites.
Also, that game played UNDER its total of 137.
Including Thursday's victory/non-cover North Carolina is now 9-10 SU, 7-12 ATS against teams that made the NCAA Tournament this season.
Arkansas advanced to Saturday's game by holding off Wofford Thursday 56-53. The Hogs, as seven-point favorites, trailed at the half by a point, and the game was tied with under two minutes to go. But Alandise Harris came up with a three-point play to give Arkansas the lead, and the Terriers missed two potential game-tying 3-pointers in the last 10 seconds.
The Hogs shot 46 percent from the floor Thursday, but only went 9-for-16 from the FT line. At the other end of the court they held Wofford to just 32 percent shooting.
That game played way UNDER its total of 136.
So Arkansas is 11-3 over its last 14 games, and two of those losses came against top-ranked Kentucky, the second one in the SEC tournament championship game. The Hogs are also now 6-5 SU, 5-6 ATS this season against teams that made the NCAA tournament.
Heels-Hogs Betting Trends
North Carolina is 1-6 ATS over its last seven NCAA tournament games.
No. 4 seeds are 7-1 both SU and ATS in the last eight NCAA tournament meetings with No. 5 seeds.
Arkansas has played three UNDERS in a row, mainly because it's scored just 60, 63 and 56 points its last three games.
North Carolina has played six UNDERS in its last eight games, in part because it's been playing some pretty good defense, holding seven of its last 10 opponents to 65 points or less.
The Hogs are just 2-6 SU, 1-7 ATS in their last eight NCAA tournament games.
Heels-Hogs Free Pick
Arkansas has been having a little trouble shooting the ball as of late; it hasn't shot 50 percent in a game since a victory over Texas A&M back on Feb. 24. Meanwhile, Carolina has been playing some decent defense, except for perhaps that ACC tournament championship loss to Notre Dame. If the Heels can just limit the turnovers against the Hogs pressure, they should come out on top so back them with your NCAA tournament picks.
Free NCAA Tournament Pick: North Carolina -4.5 at Bookmaker.