#5 Indiana (27-7) vs #1 North Carolina (30-6)
When: Friday, March 25th 2016
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Time: 9:57 ET | TV: TBS
Two storied programs meet in Philadelphia Friday night in the Sweet 16 as the Indiana Hoosiers battle the North Carolina Tar Heels. Both schools are tied for third all-time with five national titles each. After cruising to a 25-point win over Chattanooga in the first round, the Hoosiers tuned up for this contest by taking care of fourth-seeded Kentucky 73-67. Yogi Ferrell again led his team to victory and has 38 points, 14 assists, and only three turnovers in the first two tournament games. Indiana scored an average of 82.5 points per game this season and shot 50.5%. They’ll need to match those totals to have a chance against the Tar Heels and will need production down low from Thomas Bryant (19 points versus Kentucky, 68.9% shooting overall) and forward Troy Williams (13 points, team-high 5.9 rebounds this season). Depth might be a concern for Indiana tonight as guard Robert Johnson (ankle) and forward Juwan Morgan (shoulder) are questionable to play. Indiana, which is 66-33 in 99 NCAA Tournament games, is 4-0 overall all-time in Philadelphia – including a 63-50 win against North Carolina in the 1981 national title game under coach Bob Knight.
North Carolina is cruising right now and are primed for their sixth national title. The Tar Heels won the regular season and ACC Tournament and have cruised past Florida Gulf Coast and Providence in the first two rounds of this tournament. The Tar Heels have limited 27 straight opponents to less than 45% shooting from the field and are led by Brice Johnson and a very deep roster. Johnson, who is four rebounds shy of becoming the 8th Tar Heel to reach 1,000 in his career, averages a double-double (16.8 points, 10.5 boards) while shooting 61.9% from the field. The rest of the talented roster includes senior point guard Marcus Paige (12.0 points), who has hit 5-of-12 from beyond the arc in the first two rounds. Guard Joel Berry II (12.8) and forward Justin Jackson (12.1) also average in double figures. Head coach Roy Williams is 33-9 at North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament and can pass Lute Olson (780) for 10th all time in Division I victories.
I want to say that Ferrell can keep the Hoosiers in this game, and he might for a while, but the Tar Heels are just too good right now. They will dominate the inside game and cruise to a victory.
Pick: North Carolina -5.5