(3) Oregon Ducks vs (1) North Carolina Tar Heels (-5, 152)
Game to be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
North Carolina is hoping for another chance to finish the job in the NCAA Tournament and Oregon looks to ride the momentum of its deepest run since 1939 when the teams meet in the national semifinals Saturday at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. Ariz. While Oregon reached the Final Four despite losing a key player to injury in the Pac-12 tournament, the Tar Heels return for the second straight year after having their hearts broken in the title game.
“I think our kids really used it a great deal as motivation during the offseason,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams told reporters of the 77-74 loss to Villanova in the final. “Once we started practice, you know, you’re putting together a team then, and I’d make reference to it periodically … about what’s the most fun you’ve had, just remind them, because everybody said it was the run to the national championship game last year.” The Tar Heels hope to have a healthy Joel Berry II (two sprained ankles) to run the show against the Ducks, who have been led by the hot shooting of sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey and some solid defense despite being without 6-10 senior Chris Boucher (knee) since the Pac-12 semifinal. North Carolina needed a last-second jumper from reserve Luke Maye to beat Kentucky 75-73 while Oregon held Kansas to 35 percent shooting in a 74-60 victory at the Elite Eight last weekend. “We’re just staying in the moment, enjoying it and having fun,” Ducks guard Casey Benson told reporters. “… We have a real opportunity to be a national championship team.”
TV: 8:49 p.m. ET, CBS
LINE HISTORY: North Carolina opened the betting week as 4.5-point favorites and the spread was bumped slightly to 5 on Thursday. The total hit the board at 150 and rose steadily all week to the current number of 152. Check out the complete line history here.
WHAT SHARPS SAY: ‘These are two excellent offensive teams as Oregon averages 78.9 points per game on 48.3% FG shooting this season (versus opponents that allow just 72.2 ppg and 43.3%), while North Carolina averages 85.0 points per game on 47.2% FG shooting (versus opponents that allow just 71.1 ppg and 43.9%). A key to this game will be pace as North Carolina likes to play fast, while Oregon has shown the ability win versus uptempo (Kansas) and slow tempo (Rhode Island and Michigan) teams in this tournament.’ - Covers Expert Steve Merril
WHAT BOOKS SAY: ’The over in Oregon-UNC is a sharp and square play where we have a lot of liability. We're all the way up to 153 after opening at 148.5. More than 80 percent of handle is on the over.’ - Scott Cooley of Bookmaker.eu.
ABOUT OREGON (33-5 SU, 21-15-1 ATS, 17-20 O/U): The Ducks have done a decent job on the boards this season (plus-4.2 margin), but will need to raise that level higher against the Tar Heels: “Their offensive rebounding numbers are off the charts, so we have to do a great job on the boards,” coach Dana Altman told reporters. Dorsey has been nicknamed “Mr. March” by his teammates, scoring at least 20 in seven straight games while averaging 24.5 in the tournament and making 17-of-26 from 3-point range. Junior Jordan Bell stepped up his game in Boucher’s absence, averaging 12.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in the NCAAs after blocking eight shots against Kansas.
ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (31-7 SU, 18-15-3 ATS, 14-21-1 O/U): Maye, a former walk-on, was named the Most Outstanding Player of the South Regional after scoring 17 against Kentucky and is averaging 12.5 in the first four games of the tournament. Junior swingman Justin Jackson, the ACC Player of the Year, is averaging 19.8 points in the NCAAs but will need the talented Berry (14.6 overall) to provide him room to operate although the junior point guard is 6-for-26 from behind the arc in the Big Dance. Senior forward Kennedy Meeks, who is averaging 13 rebounds in the tournament after hauling in a career-best 17 against Kentucky, will play a big role against Oregon’s physical lineup.
* Ducks are 11-2 ATS in their last 13 games as an underdog of 0.5-6.5.
* Tar Heels are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 vs. Pacific-12.
* Under is 4-1 in Ducks last 5 neutral site games as an underdog.
* Under is 10-2-1 in Tar Heels last 13 games following a straight up win.
Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 54 percent of Covers users are taking the points with the Oregon Ducks and the Over is picking up 74 percent of the totals wagers. View full consensus data here.