The North Carolina Tar Heels have been one of the best teams in the country over the last month after a slow start to the season. UCLA, on the opposite end, pushed Arizona in the Pac 12 Championship Game, eventually falling 84-76. Both of these teams can put up plenty of points, with the Tar Heels averaging the 17th-most points per game to the Bruins’ 44th-most.
Sweet Sixteen: UCLA vs. North Carolina
How to watch
Gametime: 9:39pm EST
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North Carolina (+2.5) over UCLA
I expect UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez to play through his ankle injury. If the Bruins’ leading rebounder and second-leading scorer doesn’t suit up, it’s just another reason to take the Tar Heels. UCLA has been the more balanced and consistent team this season, but North Carolina has lost one game in the past month, defeating Duke and Baylor.
The Tar Heels’ offense, which averaged 94 points through the first two rounds, has too many weapons to go cold for long, with Armando Bacot averaging a double-double and the next three leading-scorers (Caleb Love, Brady Manek, R.J. Davis) all shooting better than 37 percent beyond the arc. Plus, the nation’s fifth-ranked rebounding unit gives the dynamic offense more chances than it needs.
The memory of the near-collapse in the second round against Baylor is hard to erase, but the Tar Heels’ resilience in recovering and defeating the defending champs in overtime meant far more.