A great week of college hoops kicks off tonight with slate of games in the Big Ten – ACC Challenge. Minnesota and Florida State hook up in an interesting battle of two probably tourney teams who have shown both the capability to be very good and very bad. North Carolina State can say the exact same thing. They will need to play much better tonight to beat a loaded Michigan squad.
But the game of the night is in Bloomington, when the North Carolina Tarheels head to take on #1 Indiana. The spread is much larger than I expected it to be, but does Indiana have the firepower to cover such a wide margin?? Let’s dig into tonight’s matchup for today’s free pick.
North Carolina Tarheels at Indiana Hoosiers -9.5 (Total: 136)
Tonight’s game could have easily never happened with one simple decision. Had sophomore All-American Indiana decided to follow his brother Tyler to North Carolina instead of staying home at Indiana, it is unlikely Indiana’s rapid return to national prominence ever occurs. Especially considering that Tom Crean was 28-66 in three seasons prior to Cody’s arrival. They are 33-9 and counting in a season-plus with him on board.
However, I am not sure Zeller and company has seen a team with this kind of motor and fastbreak capabilities since last year’s tourney exit against Kentucky. North Carolina, Butler loss excepted, has a ton of talent and can play with anyone in the country when they play well. The scary thing with Carolina is it is hard to honestly be certain they WILL play well tonight.
James Michael McAdoo has a great opportunity to get himself in the National POY conversation by heading into Bloomington and outplaying the current odds on favorite, Cody Zeller, in his home gym. North Carolina certainly lost points in the polls with their no-show against Butler over in Maui, but it isn’t like Indiana was too much better in a sleepwalk win against Georgia and an overtime win over unranked Georgetown (though I am convinced Georgetown is a #5 seed or better come March, whikle Butler is likely a bubble team). My point is, neither of these teams have played perfectly, North Carolina just got caught with the loss.
I think this will be one of the most watchable and entertaining games of the season, and I do like Indiana to win at home. But with Carolina’s stable of talent, it is hard to lay ten points to bet against them. It feels WAY too high to me.
Free Pick: North Carolina Tarheels +9.5