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No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 9 Wisconsin preview, picks for first round of 2021 NCAA Tournament

The UNC Tarheels and Wisconsin Badgers meet at Mackey Arena in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

Can North Carolina defeat Wisconsin in the first round?

Update March 19: Here are the updated bet splits for No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 9 Wisconsin as of March 19th at 7 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

UNC -1.5: 63% of action, 62% of bets
Wisconsin +1.5: 37% of action, 38% of bets

Over 137.5: 29% of action, 56% of bets
Under 137.5: 71% of action, 44% of bets


Update March 18: Here are the updated bet splits for No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 9 Wisconsin as of March 18th at 1:30 p.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

North Carolina: -2: 62% of action, 64% of bets
Wisconsin: +2: 38% of action, 36% of bets

Over 137.5: 20% of action, 48% of bets
Under 137.5: 80% of action, 52% of bets


Update March 17: Here are the updated bet splits for North Carolina vs. Wisconsin as of March 17th at 11:00 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

North Carolina -1.5: 63% of handle, 65% of bets
Wisconsin +1.5: 37% of handle, 35% of bets
Over 138: 11% of handle, 46% of bets
Under 138: 89% of handle, 54% of bets


Seeing the North Carolina Tar Heels and Wisconsin Badgers matched up in the NCAA Tournament isn’t a huge surprise. But seeing them play in the first round is a bit of one. But that’s what will happen on Friday, March 19th at 7:10 p.m. at Mackey Arena on the campus of Purdue University.

No. 8 North Carolina: 18-10 (10-6 ACC): At-large

KenPom rating: 28 Overall, 53 Offense, 15 Defense
NET ranking: 32, (3-9 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Armando Bacot, 12.2 ppg
Key stat: The Tar Heels are the No. 1 offensive rebounding team in the country, recovering 41.3% of their missed shots.

It’s been an up-and-down season for the Heels, who made a nice run in the ACC Tournament before losing a one-possession game to Florida State in the semifinals. They can lock in and get stops with anyone, but the infamous “Kansas break” of Roy Williams teams of old isn’t really what this unit does.

Point guard Caleb Love looks to have a bright future, but they’ll want to make more than 31.7% of their three-pointers, the season average for the team.

No. 9 Wisconsin: 17-12 (10-10 Big Ten): At-large

KenPom rating: 10 Overall, 32 Offense, 13 Defense
NET ranking: 27 (5-10 Vs. Quad 1)
Leading scorer: D’Mitrik Trice, 13.7 ppg
Key stat: The Badgers turn it over on just 13.5% of possessions, the second-best rate in Division I.

The Badgers have lost six of their last eight, and really struggled with the top end of the Big Ten Conference this season. Their 0-6 against Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan this season is mostly via blowouts, but have wins over teams like Maryland, Rutgers, and the second-tier of an extremely deep league.

This game will be about who can control the pace: North Carolina is 45th in possessions per game, whereas Wisconsin is 326th. If UNC is getting up quality shots and attacking the offensive glass, that would be a concern for UW.

March Madness Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Point Spread: North Carolina -1.5
Point Total: 139
Moneyline: North Carolina -122, Wisconsin +102

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: UNC -1.5
Point total pick: Under 139
Pick to Win: UNC

UNC is a better that’s in form right now, and Bacot and Garrison Brooks should give the front line of the Badgers fits. Look out for D’Mitrik Trice as he’s good enough to take over a game by himself, as the third-team B1G performer is a standout that will need some help to advance.

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