North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Auburn Tigers Pick
No. 1 seed North Carolina will face No. 5 seed Auburn in Friday’s first semifinal in the Midwest Regional, and it shapes up like a track meet on a basketball court. The Tar Heels are the favorites, as they are listed at -5 in this game.
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Tigers Running Hot
Following a narrow escape against New Mexico State in the first round, Auburn took care of Kansas, 89-75, in the second round. The Tigers went into the second half holding onto a 26-point lead that turned into handing Kansas the fourth-worst NCAA tournament defeat in program history.
“The reality is that this Auburn basketball team is a better team than the Kansas team,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said after the game. “I think (Kansas coach) Bill (Self) will say that. We have some firepower. We like to think we’re tough to play against because we have 10 guys that play and they all contribute. I thought the better team won.”
The Tigers dominated Kansas to keep the Jayhawks from advancing to the regional that sits 46 miles from its home court.
"It was just one of those games where everybody was playing hard," center Anfernee McLemore said. "Our defense led to offense, and I think it was just one of our games where our effort paid off, and we ended up running away with it a little bit."
Roy Williams Back in Sweet 16
North Carolina (29-6) was selected first in the region by the selection committee, and the favored Tar Heels have looked the part through two games thanks to a team that can run with anyone. The Tar Heels were able to handle Iona and Washington with no problem thanks to their ability to control the boards and the tempo to set up their fastbreak offense.
"Needless to say, anybody, who advances past this point you feel good about a win in the second round," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "I love our toughness, and I love the edge our bench gave us."
Pearl knows the Tigers are about to step up in class. Awaiting in the regional final is second-seeded Gonzaga or fourth-seeded Florida State, a team the Tar Heels know well from their ACC wars.
“It’s really hard to get here,” he said, “and it’s even harder to finish. This next round is blue bloods on steroids.”
Freshman point guard Coby White scored 17 points for North Carolina in the win over Washington on Sunday. Cam Johnson leads the team in scoring with 16.9 points per game, but White and forward Luke Maye are well equipped to carry the offense in stretches. White’s blazing speed ignites the attack.
“They have really good big guys that are great interior passers and guys that can operate in that high post area. And it’s hard for us. It’s a hard matchup,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said. “And I thought they got us everywhere. They got us in the high post. They got us on the 3. They got to the foul line.”
- Get more details: UNC vs Auburn NCAAB Tournament Match-up
UNC vs Auburn Prediction 03/28/2019
North Carolina is the third-highest scoring team in NCAA Division I at 86.1 points per game. Auburn is 36th at 79.5. On defense, Auburn ranks 93rd at 68.5 points per game allowed, while North Carolina is 208th at 72.5. This expects to be a very quick basketball game, but in the end, the Tar Heels will win and should cover the spread.
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