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Tonight we'll get to see Zion versus Tacko Fall and tha thugely entertaining UNC team. Here are our picks.
UNC v Washington
UNC beats Washington in every offensive statistical category. The Tar Heels put up an average of 86.1 points per game on 46.4% shooting and 36.4% 3-point shooting. Meanwhile, the Huskies only average 70.1 points on 45.4% shooting and 35.2% 3-point shooting. UNC averages more assists, more free throws, a better free throw percentage, more offensive rebounds, and less turnovers per game.
Defensively, Washington wins with less points allowed, the same shooting percentage allowed, more blocks, and more steals. The problem is that the Huskies’ defensive stats largely come from limiting possessions (they average 69.1 possessions per game, 271st in the country) and from playing in a weak conference.
UNC plays at a breakneck speed – 77.9 possessions per game – and scores in buckets. The better team usually dictates the pace and Washington simply doesn’t have the scoring ability to keep up with UNC.
1u - UNC -11.5 @ -110
Virginia Tech v Liberty
Liberty is a diet version of Virginia Tech: both play slow, smart basketball and win with suffocating defenses. The Hokies just do it all better.
On offense, Virginia Tech averages more points on less possessions with a better shooting percentage and deep ball. On defense, Virginia tech holds opponents to less points with a worse shooting percentage and deep ball.
Not convinced yet? Liberty has played 5 bottom-barrel power 5 teams this season and won only 2 of those games. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech absolutely destroyed the mid-majors they played during their non-conference schedule, winning each game by an average of 30.2 points.
As an added bonus, arguably the Hokies’ best player – Justin Robinson – should be back in full force. He missed 2 months of action and was eased into the Saint Louis game, scoring only 9 off the bench. Virginia Tech is a much better team with him on the floor and he could prove to be the difference maker in this game.
Liberty is a great Cinderella story and their upset over Mississippi State was one of the highlights of the first round. However, though they may only be one seed number apart, Virginia Tech is lightyears better than Mississippi State. Liberty’s season ends here in a harsh, decisive loss.
1u -Virginia Tech -9 @ -110
Houston v Ohio State
Ohio State was lucky to make it out of the first round against a streaky Iowa State team, but their luck runs out here as they have to play Houston.
Houston has a fearsome defense. The Cougars rank 6th in the country for scoring defense (61.1 points per game), 1st in shooting percentage allowed (36.5%), and 1st in 3-point percentage allowed (27.5%). Houston hasn’t allowed any of their past 5 opponents to surpass 70 points.
Meanwhile, Ohio State has a pitiful offense. The Buckeyes rank 248th in scoring (69.4 points per game), 198th in shooting percentage (43.6%), and 192nd in 3-point percentage (34.0%). Ohio State has scored over 70 just once in their past 5 games.
Against the best defenses Ohio State played this season – defenses markedly worse than Houston – they put up an average of 60.8 points per game. When Houston has held teams to 60 or under, they win by an average of 20.7 points.
To make matters worse, this game is being played much closer to Houston, Texas than it is to Columbus, Ohio. This won’t be an outright home game, but the crowd should certainly be in Houston’s favor.
This is an absolute mismatch on every level; 5 points is simply too low. Houston should cover this with ease.
1u - Houston -5 @ -110