UNC, Texas A&M Set For Battle Of the Boards In West Regional Clash

Texas AM Aggies players in action

Jay Pryce

Saturday, March 17, 2018 4:33 PM GMT

Saturday, Mar. 17, 2018 4:33 PM GMT

Defending NCAA Tournament champion and two-seeded North Carolina opens a 6-point favorite to advance to the Sweet 16 over seventh-seeded Texas A&M Sunday. What's your best bet? 

No. 7 Texas A&M vs, No. 2 North CarolinaWest Region, Sunday, Charlotte, 5:15 p.m. ETFree NCAAB Pick: UnderBest Line Offered: Bookmaker

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Texas A&M topped Providence 73-69 in the opening round of the West Regional in a big way Friday. Literally. Its superior size and strength bossed the Friars all game, particularly on the glass. The Aggies nearly doubled them on the boards with a 40 to 21 rebounding edge. The squad, in fact, ranks fifth nationally in total rebounds per game (41.3) and 23rd in the margin (+5.9).

The experience helped top Providence, too. Five players on the A&M roster owned NCAA Tournament experience headed into the meeting, including Tiler Davis, Admon Gilder, SJ Hoff, Tonny Trocha-Morelos and Duane Wilson. Moreover, the Aggies have squared off in now 17 contests against tournament teams, going 8-9 SU and 9-8 ATS overall. They hope to use both strengths to upset 6-point favorite North Carolina on Sunday. A&M has advanced to the Sweet 16 three times since the tournament field expanded to 48 teams, last progressing in 2016.

Defense is Texas A&M’s strength. Like most Billy Kennedy coached units, it is long and excels at man-to-man coverage, swatting 9.8 percent of opponent 2-point jumpers (5.8 is the national average). The Aggies exploit their length on the other ends as well, attempting 42.2 percent of their shots at the rim. The execution here pretty much determines their chances for a victory. The team is 4-9 SU and 2-11 ATS this season when putting up 70 points or less.

UNC, meanwhile, easily topped tournament debutant Lipscomb 84-66 Friday afternoon in Charlotte’s Spectrum Center. The defending champions are undefeated in the first round in head coach Roy Williams’ 15-year tenure. Guard Joel Berry proved the man of the hour, recording 14 points, 3 assists and 3 steals in the win. The performance moved the senior to 13th place on Carolina’s all-time scoring list, passing the great Michael Jordan.

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UNC's Joel Berry throwin' it down:#MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/vPHYneIh7C

— Kenan Goyette (@TheKenanGoyette) March 15, 2018
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The Tar Heels struggled at times this year, at one point sitting 5-5 in ACC play, but know how to banish big opponents when it counts. Despite a few season blips, the fact remains the Tar Heels own more quad one wins than any team in the nation. Williams, including his time coaching Kansas, is 7-0 SU all-time versus Texas A&M.

UNC negates nearly all the advantages Texas A&M sports into the matchup. The Tar Heels, for example, rank first nationally in total rebounds per game (42.6). This is bad news for Aggies backers. Since Kennedy took over in 2011, the team is 1-8 SU and 3-6 ATS when tipping off underdogs in March against an opponent outrebounding it for the season. A&M is failing to cover a 7.4 average line by 1.2 points per game in this spot.

Put-back opportunities will likely be limited for both sides, helping the game total stay ‘under’ the mark in this expected close encounter. It is 8-1 this season when the Tar Heels tip off in a contest with a line within 7 points, and both teams combining to average more than 75 total rebounds for the year. The 146.9 final score is staying a whopping 11.6 points below a 158.4 game total in this situation.

Check out SBR’s college basketball odds page for updated lines. Also, head over to the March Madness Betting Headquarters for vital handicapping information, picks, and a list of the best sports books and live betting options for the tournament season.

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