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UNC a Slight Favorite for Heavyweight Tilt With Kentucky

Sunday’s slate of NCAA tournament games will be highlighted by UNC’s matchup with Kentucky in the South Region final. When these college basketball heavyweights squared off back in December, the Wildcats came away with a 103-100 win in the CBS Sports Classic that was fueled by Malik Monk’s astounding 47-point performance. There will be a ton of eyeballs on this game but as we witnessed from their performance against Lonzo Ball and the Bruins in the Sweet 16, that shouldn’t faze the John Calipari-coached Wildcats.

SHARK BITES
  • North Carolina is 0-3 ATS in its last 3 games after an ATS win.
  • Kentucky is 8-1 SU and 7-2 ATS in its last 9 games against the Atlantic Coast.
  • The total has gone UNDER in 9 of Kentucky's last 10 games.

In Kentucky’s last game, an 11-point win over UCLA, it was De’Aaron Fox doing the heavy lifting. The rookie guard poured in 39 points on just 20 shots and if the Wildcats have any hope of getting by the Tar Heels for a second time this season, he and Monk will both have to be special.

Justin Jackson, North Carolina’s go-to man, was also excellent in his team’s last game, dropping 24 points, dishing five assists and collecting five rebounds. The junior has likely increased his draft stock with his March Madness performance so far but with just three or fewer games remaining in his college hoops career, we could still see another gear from Jackson.

These teams are incredibly well-matched at just about every position but where UNC might have a little bit of an advantage is its depth. In the Tar Heels’ Sweet 16 victory against Butler, Roy Williams played seven guys 17 minutes or more while Calipari was forced to play all but one of his starters for at least 32 minutes.

UNC’s size, strength and experience down low should give them the edge and if the Wildcats’ big men get in foul trouble, watch Jackson, Isaiah Hicks, Theo Pinson and Kennedy Meeks go to town for the Heels.

Schools from the ACC have been a terrible bet this spring but after seeing North Carolina man-handle the Bulldogs in a game they easily covered, it appears they’ve bucked that trend and I’ll be backing them laying the points Sunday.

Kentucky Wildcats vs North Carolina Tar Heels Matchup

Team Betting Records & Power Rankings

The North Carolina Tar Heels sit at 30-7 (20-16-1 ATS) on the college basketball season. By comparison, the Kentucky Wildcats are currently 32-5 (18-17-2 ATS). Looking to bet on the total points scored? North Carolina is 16-21 OU, and Kentucky is 17-20 OU.

The Odds Shark Power Rankings have the North Carolina Tar Heels at No. 16 and the Kentucky Wildcats at No. 6 heading into this college basketball betting matchup.

Statistical Matchup

The game also pits North Carolina's No. 8-ranked offense, averaging 85.24 PPG, against a Wildcats defense that ranks No. 120 at 71.38 PPG. The Tar Heels field goal percentage has averaged 47.17% so far, less than the Wildcats marksmen have achieved on the year, 47.47% per game.

Recent Outings Betting Recap

The Wildcats used a 39-point performance from De'Aaron Fox to help Kentucky smack UCLA 86-75 on Friday at FedExForum.

North Carolina earned a 92-80 victory over Butler on Friday, getting 26 points from Joel Berry II at FedExForum.

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