Date: Thursday, March 28 

Time: 9:39 PM ET

Arena: Arena Los Angeles, CA

The NCAA Tournament continues to deliver exhilarating matchups, and the Sweet Sixteen brings us a battle between two programs rich in tradition – the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Will the Tar Heels, fueled by a core of seasoned veterans, clip the wings of Alabama’s high-flying offense? Or will the Crimson Tide, with their firepower on display, finally break through to the Elite Eight? Buckle up college basketball fans, because this Sweet Sixteen showdown promises to be an instant classic!

Prediction Models:

 – KenPom Predicted Score: North Carolina 84, Alabama 77

 – Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology CBS Sports Predicted Score: North Carolina 81, Alabama 75

 – Sagarin USA Today Predicted Score: North Carolina 80, Alabama 7

 – ESPN BPI Predicted Score: North Carolina 84, Alabama 77

 – CBS Sports Predicted Score: Alabama 80, North Carolina 73

North Carolina: Seasoned Veterans with a Score to Settle

Hubert Davis’ tenure at North Carolina has been a rollercoaster. He took the Tar Heels all the way to the National Championship game in his first season, only to miss the tournament entirely the following year. Now, seeded #1 in the West Region, they find themselves two wins away from another Final Four appearance.

This Tar Heels team is fueled by a core of experienced players who were part of that national runner-up squad two years ago. Leading the charge is RJ Davis, averaging a staggering 21.3 points per game. Alongside him is the double-double machine Armando Bacot, who consistently puts up 14.4 points and 10.2 rebounds.

North Carolina isn’t just about individual talent; they’ve displayed remarkable resilience throughout the season. In their second-round win against Michigan State, they clawed their way back from a 12-point deficit, a testament to their unwavering spirit and belief.

Alabama: Offensive Powerhouse Seeking Defensive Consistency

The Alabama Crimson Tide are no strangers to the Sweet Sixteen, having reached it three times in the past four years. However, their ultimate goal this time is to break through and secure their first Elite Eight appearance since 2004.

Despite boasting the nation’s top-scoring offense, averaging a whopping 90.7 points per game, Alabama has struggled defensively at times. This inconsistency is a major concern heading into this matchup against a potent North Carolina offense.

A bright spot for Alabama was their defensive performance in the second round against Grand Canyon. They held their opponents to just 61 points, their best defensive showing since January. Coach Nate Oats is hoping this newfound defensive focus will continue in Los Angeles.

The Crimson Tide’s offense is a well-oiled machine, with four players averaging over 11 points per game. Mark Sears leads the pack, dropping an impressive 21.5 points per contest. However, their ability to contain North Carolina’s offense, especially the red-hot RJ Davis, will be crucial to their success.

Why North Carolina is a Safe Bet to Cover the Spread (-5)

Here’s why North Carolina is a strong pick to not only win the game but also cover the spread of -5 points:

 – Veteran Leadership: North Carolina’s core has been battle-tested, reaching the National Championship game just two seasons ago. This experience gives them a significant edge over a younger Alabama team.

 – Offensive Firepower: RJ Davis is on a tear, averaging over 21 points per game. With a well-rounded offense featuring the double-double threat of Armando Bacot, North Carolina has the firepower to outscore Alabama.

 – Improved North Carolina Defense: While not perfect, the Tar Heels have shown signs of defensive improvement, particularly in their comeback win against Michigan State.

 – Alabama’s Defensive Question Mark: Alabama’s inconsistent defense is a major concern, especially against a high-powered North Carolina offense. The potential absence of Latrell Wrightsell Jr. due to a concussion further weakens their backcourt defense.


Looking Ahead: A Tight Matchup with a Tar Heel Advantage

This Sweet Sixteen clash promises to be a thrilling battle. North Carolina’s experience, offensive firepower, and recent defensive strides give them a slight edge over Alabama.

With North Carolina favored by 5 points, all signs point towards them covering the spread and taking another step closer to their Final Four aspirations. So, college basketball fans, buckle up for a high-scoring, edge-of-your-seat matchup!

PICK: N. Carolina -5