NCAA Tournament Picks: Notre Dame's Luck To Run Out Against North Carolina

Ross Benjamin

Saturday, March 26, 2016 7:15 PM UTC

Saturday, Mar. 26, 2016 7:15 PM UTC

Our college basketball handicapper completes his coverage of the NCAA Tournament East Region by previewing Sunday’s game between Notre Dame and North Carolina.

#6 Notre Dame vs. #1 North Carolina
A couple of ACC rivals will square off in the NCAA Tournament East Regional Final on Sunday when top seeded North Carolina plays Notre Dame. The winner will advance to the “Final Four” in Houston, and will face a fellow ACC member of either Virginia or Syracuse. Those matchups assure the ACC of two teams making it to the Final Four, and at least one playing for a national championship. North Carolina and Notre Dame split their two previous meetings this season. Notre Dame came out on top 80-76 as a 2.5 point home underdog, and North Carolina was a 78-47 blowout winner in the ACC Tournament Semifinals. Both of those games stayed under the total. Current (3/26) NCAA Tournament odds has North Carolina as a 10 point favorite, and the posted total is 156.


Living on Borrowed Time
Notre Dame has been somewhat lucky in their magic ride to the “Elite 8”. Their first three NCAA Tournament wins have come by just a combined 13 points. They’ve also been very fortunate in regards to what teams they’ve faced. Despite their #6 seed, Notre Dame has played against three opponents with higher seeds in #11 Michigan, #14 Stephen F. Austin, and #7 Wisconsin. They had to overcome a 12 point halftime deficit versus Michigan, and eventually won by 7. “The Fighting Irish” needed an offensive tap in with only 1.5 seconds left to win by 1 against Stephen F. Austin. During the Regional Semifinal against Wisconsin on Friday, Notre Dame came back from a late 5 point deficit to defeat Wisconsin by 5 in a game that was much closer than even the final score indicates. This will be the second straight year that Notre Dame has reached the “Elite 8”. They lost a narrow decision to top ranked and undefeated Kentucky when reaching this point a season ago. Needless to say, they’ll need to be drastically better on Sunday against North Carolina than they were in their prior 2016 NCAA Tournament victories.


Awesome and Dominating
North Carolina had a rough start in their opening 2016 NCAA Tournament game, and led #16 seed Florida Gulf Coast by just 2 points at the intermission. Since that time, they’ve outscored their three opponents by a combined 48 points. Their last two wins over Providence by 19, and by 15 against Indiana were especially impressive considering the quality of those opponents. They shot a blistering hot 52.1% in those contests, and had a massive 79-56 rebounding edge. The Tar Heels have been getting better as the tournament has progressed, and that’s not good for future opponents starting with Notre Dame. North Carolina has gone a perfect 8-0 SU&ATS in its last eight games as a favorite of 11.5 or less. They possess the most dominating and imposing front line in all of college basketball. When North Carolina shoots as good from the perimeter like they did versus Indiana on Friday, they’re virtually unbeatable.


Final Take and Pick
You can’t help but think the lambasting Notre Dame took at the hands of North Carolina a little over two weeks ago, will certainly have a lingering effect. A strong case can be made that North Carolina has faced tougher opponents than Notre Dame has in this tournament, and specifically so over the past two rounds. I’m going to lay the sizable number in this contest for one of my NCAA Tournament picks.

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Free NCAA Tournament Pick: North Carolina -10 +100
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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