The madness is upon us! Later this morning we will have the opening day of the round of 64 of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and with 16 games spanning across 12 hours of action today, it is going to be a long day!
On a day where everyone wants to bet, you always want to make sure you are betting with value, because the only thing better than betting on March Madness, is winning on March Madness!
The round of 64 is here ? pic.twitter.com/5a0Xw3zJQd
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) March 17, 2022
Haven’t watched a game all season and just checking in on college hoops for the first time this year? Don’t worry, we here at TheSportsGeek have got you covered! Our team of expert handicappers are here to help tell which bets you need to make to get the money this March. For this pick, we will head to the East Region for the matchup between the 8th seeded North Carolina Tar Heels and the 9th seeded Marquette Golden Eagles!
#8 North Carolina Tar Heels (24-9)
It has been a tale of two seasons for the North Carolina Tar Heels, as they came out of the gates slow as they had to adjust to a new head coach for the first time in nearly 20 years as Hall of Fame head coach Roy Willimas retired at the end of last season.
But after that slow start, the Tar Heels started to slowly figure things out and they picked up some traction with a stretch where they won 6 out of 7 games, to get themselves back into the NCAA tournament conversation. Then came an inexplicably bad homecourt loss to 206th ranked Pittsburgh, which again had the North Carolina faithful wondering if this team was any good or not.
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— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) March 17, 2022
North Carolina could have responded in several different ways to that loss to the Panthers. It would have been easy to throw in the towel and start looking towards next year. But that’s not what happened for the Tar Heels, as they went on the road to Blacksburg in their next game, and knocked off a very talented Virginia Tech team to get right back on track, and since then, they have looked better every time that they have taken the floor.
North Carolina finished the regular season by winning 6 straight games, including playing the spoiler role in Coach K’s final home game at Duke, as the Heels went into Cameron Indoor and ran the Blue Devils right out of their own house.
They weren’t able to win the ACC tournament, coming up short against the streaking Hokies, but as we hit the NCAA tournament today, there are few teams playing as well as North Carolina is right now, with a 12-3 record in their last 15 games. It might have seemed impossible just a couple of months ago, but North Carolina is a dark horse Final Four candidate at this point as the roster is talented and they are playing their best basketball of the season at just the right time.
#9 Marquette Golden Eagles (19-12)
It has been an up and down season in Milwaukee for Shaka Smart in his first year running the Marquette program. The Golden Eagles started out hot with a 7-1 record, but then stumbled with 5 losses in a 6-game stretch. None of those losses were bad ones, as they all came to top-100 teams, but on January 1st, they were sitting at 8-6, with an 0-3 record in Big East play, and things weren’t looking very good for Smart and company.
January was a fantastic month for Marquette though, as they put together a 7-game winning streak that included resume-building wins over Providence, Seton Hall (twice), Villanova, and Xavier.
All of the sudden, the Golden Eagles were right back in the national spotlight and feeling like a legit NCAA tournament team. But life in the Big East is brutal, as there are no easy wins in what I see as the toughest top to bottom conference in the country. The Big East isn’t as strong at the top as leagues like the SEC or the Big 12, but when basically your entire league is ranked in the top-100, you have to earn every win, every night.
Time to grind
— Marquette Basketball (@MarquetteMBB) March 17, 2022
I guess the gauntlet that is the Big East finally caught up to Marquette, as they have seemingly run out of gas down the stretch.
It has been over a month since the Golden Eagles have beaten a team that is playing meaningful games in March, and late-season losses to DePaul, Butler, and Creighton (twice) have me questioning whether or not this team can win a game in this tournament.
Marquette Golden Eagles vs North Carolina Tar Heels Betting Odds
The following odds are courtesy of BetOnline:
|Marquette Golden Eagles||+3.5 (-110)||+145||Over 152.5 (-110)|
|North Carolina Tar Heels||-3.5 (-110)||-175||Under 152.5 (-110)|
|Team Data||Marquette Golden Eagles||North Carolina Tar Heels|
|Points Per Game||74.4||77.5|
|Points Against Per Game||70.8||71.7|
|Field Goal %||45.3%||45.3%|
|Three Point %||34.7%||36.2%|
Marquette Golden Eagles vs North Carolina Tar Heels Prediction:
This betting line opened up at North Carolina laying -4-points and quickly dropped half of a point and has mostly stayed put ever since. That tells me that both the public and the sharps are split on this game and that we are seeing equal action on both sides. That is somewhat understandable, as these teams do have fairly similar resumes when you look at their full body of work.
Winning in March is all about staying healthy and peaking at the right time. If this game were being played 2 months ago when Marquette was beating elite teams like Villanova and Providence, I would have told you that they were the side to back. But the Golden Eagles just haven’t played very well recently, and against a surging team like North Carolina, I wonder if they are even going to be able to hang around and keep this game competitive.
Marquette Golen Eagles vs North Carolina Tar Heels Betting Trends:
- Marquette are 1-6-1 ATS in their last 8 games
- The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Marquette’s last 6 games
- Marquette are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games played on a Thursday
- Marquette are 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 games when playing as the underdog
- Marquette are 2-8 SU in their last 10 games played on a Thursday when playing on the road
- North Carolina are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games
- The total has gone OVER in 9 of North Carolina’s last 13 games
- North Carolina are 6-1 SU in their last 7 games
- North Carolina are 12-3 SU in their last 15 games this season
- North Carolina are 15-4 SU in their last 19 games played on a Thursday
When North Carolina beat Duke, a team that was slated to be a 1-seed prior to that loss, it signaled to me, that North Carolina was going to be a dangerous team in the NCAA tournament. When you can win in the most hostile of environments, against an elite team like the Blue Devils, there isn’t a situation you can be in, where you don’t have a chance to win.
But each of North Carolina’s last 4 wins have come by at least 9 points, and their last couple of wins, over Duke and Virginia, came by an average of over 16 points per game. I expect the Heels to physically dominate Marquette for much of this game and pull away late for the win and cover. Give me North Carolina to win and advance today against Marquette.