Free Pick Against the Spread #13 Ohio Bobcats vs. #1 North Carolina Tarheels

#13 Ohio Bobcats vs. #1 North Carolina Tarheels -10.5 – Midwest Regional Semifinals

Kendall Marshall… will he play?  Will he not?   If he does play, will he be effective?  If he doesn’t play, will the Tarheels go to Stillman White?  Will they share ball handling duties with Harrison Barnes and other swingmen to keep the best five players on the floor?

Questions, questions, questions…

However the question everyone seems to be forgetting to ask is “how the hell is Ohio going to guard Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock, Tyler Zeller, John Henson and James Michael McAdoo?”  That’s a really good question to ask, because the answer is really easy.  They can’t.  You or I could play point guard for UNC tomorrow night and I still think we win by double-digits.  This is a classic example of people getting swept up in the story and the magic of March and failing to look at the matchup closely.  This is a 16 to 18 point line on a neutral floor in the regular season.  At least.  And that’s factoring in the Kendall Marshall injury.

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Don’t believe me?  Let’s put Ohio U. in the proper context.  This is the third place team in the MAC.  Before their one-point championship win over Akron and the subsequent upsets of Michigan and South Florida (barely an ‘upset’), their best wins were Northern Iowa, Marshall and Lamar.  They own losses to Robert Morris, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan and Toledo.  Earlier this season North Carolina faced a few teams I’d consider relatively equal competition.  Here are the games, along with their Vegas lines:

  • UNC Ashville – 17.5
  • South Carolina -19
  • Long Beach State -16.5
  • Maryland -18.5
  • Texas -10
  • North Carolina State -13

 

I threw the last two in to make a point; obviously those teams are better than Ohio.  And look at the lines.  The Texas game was on a neutral floor.  Even taking into account the three to four point home court advantage, comparing tonight’s line to these ones makes it look way, way too slim.

I think I’ve already tipped my hand a bit which way I’m leaning tonight.  Obviously, I love the Heels to win with ease.  Ohio’s run has been fun, and I’ve heard all the trendy stats about how well they defend the three point line, etc.  It isn’t going to matter against UNC’s overwhelming size and athleticism.  Shutting down USF’s offense is one thing; they don’t shoot 50% in WARMUPS.  Shutting down Carolina?  That’s a whole other feat.  Kendall Marshall or no Kendall Marshall, the Tarheels cruise to an easy one tonight.

Free Pick: North Carolina -10.5

PS – Marshall is going to play.  I change my prediction from earlier in the week.  He’s playing.

Chris Scheeren / Author