The North Carolina Tar Heels realize that they could be fighting a lot of irresistible forces as they venture into the Final Four, including a tremendous sentiment for Mike Krzyzewski to end his Duke career as a champion. And maybe that will impact their ability to move on to the championship game.
But surely there are reasons they could get through these next two games and cut down the nets. We'll explore them, but because it's a matter of "first things first," here are the numbers at BetOnline for the semifinal against Duke, taking place in New Orleans between schools that are eight miles away from each other:
Duke Blue Devils -4 (-115)
North Carolina Tar Heels +4 (-105)
Over 153.5 Points -110
Under 153.5 Points -110
NORTH CAROLINA MIGHT JUST BE THE HOTTEST TEAM IN THIS TOURNAMENT
After going through a bad period during the ACC season, in which they lost back-to-back games to Wake Forest and Miami by over 20 points, the Heels have bounced back to win ten of their last 11. And even though they had a bit of a walkover in the regional final against St. Peter's, they did knock off UCLA and Baylor along the way.
THEY HAVE THE CONFIDENCE OF KNOWING THEY BEAT DUKE IN DURHAM
North Carolina spoiled Coach K's last game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, winning a 94-81 decision that was part of this hot streak they are currently on (having happened on March 5). In that game, they had four players with 20 or more points. And that leads us to the next thing, which is . . .
NORTH CAROLINA HAS GREAT BALANCE, AS ANYONE CAN BE A HERO ON ANY GIVEN NIGHT
Here's what has happened so far in the tournament:
- Brady Manek scored 28 and 26 points in the first two games.
- RJ Davis exploded for 30 points against Baylor.
- Caleb Love had 30 points against UCLA.
- Armando Bacot, the man in the middle, had 20 points and 22 rebounds against St.Peter's.
So what we're saying is that here is no regular "go-to" for an opponent to focus on, and that makes it tougher to defend them on an overall basis.
THIS TEAM CAN HIT FREE THROWS
North Carolina makes 76.5% of its shots from the line, and that is a Top 30 figure in the nation. So they aren't leaving a lot of points on the table, and in the event they get ahead, it is difficult for the other team to use fouling as away to edge closer.
THEY LIMIT TEAMS TO ONE SHOT
The Tar Heels are the second best defensive rebounding team in the country, allowing opponents to pull down a missed shot only 21.2% of the time. What this means is that whoever is playing them had better shoot well.
THEY CAN DEFEND WITHOUT FOULING
UNC's foes have scored only 13.8% of their points from the free throw line. That means an opponent had better find more creative ways to score.
So, did we change any minds?
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