Oregon (33-5) vs North Carolina (31-7)
When: Saturday, April 1st 2017
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
Time: 8:49 ET | TV: CBS
The North Carolina Tar Heels are entering their 20th Final Four while the Oregon Ducks are making their deepest tournament run since 1939. The two will meet in Glendale, Arizona on Saturday night for the chance to get to the title game on Monday. The Tar Heels average a 9th-best 85.0 points a game, but needed some good defense down the stretch against Arkansas in the second round and Kentucky in the regional final. North Carolina needed a last-second jumper from reserve Luke Maye to beat Kentucky 75-73 on Sunday afternoon. North Carolina is also making it’s second straight trip to the Final Four after suffering a heart-breaking buzzer-beating loss to Villanova in the championship game. The Tar Heels hope to have a healthy Joel Berry II (two sprained ankles) to run the show against the Ducks, who is averaging 14.6 points overall. 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 Big Dance. Senior forward Kennedy Meeks, who is averaging 13 rebounds in the tournament after bringing down a career-best 17 against Kentucky, will play a big role against Oregon’s physical lineup.
Oregon has reached the Final Four despite losing a key player a few weeks ago, but 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. Oregon held Kansas to 35% shooting in a 74-60 victory at the Elite Eight last weekend. The Ducks have done a solid job on the boards this season (+4.2 margin), but will need to raise that level higher against a Tar Heels team that led the nation in rebounds per game (43.7). Dorsey has been nicknamed “Mr. March” by his teammates, scoring at least 20 points in seven straight games while averaging 24.5 in the tournament and making a sizzling 17-of-26 from 3-point range. Junior Jordan Bell has really stepped up his game in Boucher’s absence, averaging 12.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in the tournament after blocking eight shots against Kansas. Junior forward Dillon Brooks tops the team in scoring overall (16.3) and is averaging 16.5 in the NCAA Tournament, including 17 versus Kansas. The Ducks are 0-4 lifetime against North Carolina with the last meeting coming in the 2008 Maui Invitational.
This is a game that I think Oregon can definitely win. Bell up front should cause Meeks some problems and the hot shooting of Dorsey will keep them in it. Look for Brooks, who has not played his best recently, to step up and lead this team to a possible upset victory. I’m taking the points.
Pick: Oregon +5
HEAD TO HEAD
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