NCAA Tournament Picks Of The Day: Sunday's Top Elite Eight Plays

Matthew Jordan

Saturday, March 26, 2016 8:05 PM UTC

Saturday, Mar. 26, 2016 8:05 PM UTC

It's the final Sunday of NCAA Basketball action this season as the Midwest and East Region finals are staged and the Final Four in Houston will be complete by around 11 p.m. ET. Here are my picks with Heritage's NCAA Basketball odds.

No. 10 Syracuse Vs. No. 1 Virginia
I have an in-depth preview of this Midwest Region game (6:09 p.m. ET tipoff) in Chicago here at SBR. So I'll be fairly brief here. Obviously it's an all-ACC affair as is the bottom game, meaning the conference is guaranteed two teams in the Final Four and one in the national championship game. That's a nice financial windfall for a conference that lags behind the  Big Ten and SEC in football revenue. Syracuse, which frankly shouldn't even be in this tournament, has a chance to be the first double-digit seed in the Final Four since VCU in 2011. These teams played only once in the regular season, a 73-65 Wahoos home win on Jan. 24. This total is by far the lowest of any Elite Eight game and nearly the lowest of the tournament. No surprise with that stifling Syracuse 2-3 zone, and UVA's slow tempo and No. 2 national defense. This will not be a pretty offensive game by any standard. First one to 50 probably takes it.

Take the points with your NCAA Tournament picks, go 'under.' The 'under' is 12-4 in UVA's past 16 games.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Syracuse +8
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes


No. 6 Notre Dame Vs. No. 1 North Carolina
The East Region final with a tip of approximately 8:50 p.m. ET from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. This has easily the highest total of any Elite Eight game  -- as it should as these are two of the top offensive teams in the nation. UNC is also the biggest favorite of the Elite Eight. The Heels would certainly also be favored against either Syracuse or Virginia in the Final Four. Notre Dame (24-11) was rather fortunate to beat Stephen F. Austin in the Round of 32 and fate smiled upon the Irish again to beat No. 7 Wisconsin in the Sweet 16 on Friday. Star point guard Demetrious Jackson had a steal with under 20 seconds left and hit the go-ahead layup with 14.7 seconds to go. He then had another steal and two free throws to seal it. UW had led 56-53 with 26 seconds left, but the Irish scored eight points in the final 19 seconds. Great quote afterward from Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, who actually injured his calf during the game while disagreeing with a call: "The Irish don't lose on Good Friday or Easter Sunday. Can I get an Amen!" Of course Sunday is Easter. It's the second straight regional final for Notre Dame. It nearly upset No. 1 and unbeaten Kentucky last year but lost 68-66 after leading much of the second half. Jerian Grant (now in the NBA) missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Notre Dame hasn't been to the Final Four since 1978.

North Carolina (31-6) was my pick to win this tournament and I have no reason to change that now. The Tar Heels played their best game of the Big Dance on Friday in schooling a very good Indiana team, 101-86 -- I recommended giving the 5 points and going 'over' the 157.5-point total so that worked out well. The Heels have probably the best frontcourt in the nation, so if they get good play from point guard Marcus Paige, they are going to be national champions. The senior has been very inconsistent this season but was spectacular against the Hoosiers with 21 points, hitting 6-for-9 from 3-point range. He also had six assists and  no turnovers, outplaying counterpart Yogi Ferrell, an All-Big Ten first-team pick. UNC shot 51.6 percent from the floor and 55.0 percent from 3-point range. Carolina made a season-high 11 3-pointers. It's UNC's 26th time in the regional final and first since losing to Kansas in 2012. The Heels are 3-3 in the Elite Eight under Coach Roy Williams. They are 50-1 all-time under Williams when scoring 100 points after that Indiana win.

North Carolina lost 80-76 at Notre Dame on Feb. 6 but trashed the Irish 78-47 in the ACC Tournament. I'm quite confident that the Irish won't be held under 50 points again so go 'over' this total. I tend to think UNC might have a small letdown here off beating an Indiana team that's better than Notre Dame. Heels win but take the points at NCAA Tournament odds. The Irish have covered five of the past six meetings.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Notre Dame +10
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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