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UNC and Providence clash Friday night
By: Robert Livingston - StatFox
Published: 3/21/2014  at  5:55:00 AM
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NCAA Tournament - Round of 64
AT&T Center - San Antonio, TX
Tip-off: Friday, 7:20 p.m. ET
Line: North Carolina -4, Total: 143.5

No. 6 seed North Carolina will look to avenge a one-and-done performance in the ACC Tournament when it begins its NCAA Tournament run on Friday against 11th-seeded Providence, the Big East champion.

After a brutal start to ACC play that included three consecutive losses, the Tar Heels found their groove late, riding an 11-game winning streak until their season finale at Duke. Their resume includes wins against Duke, Louisville, Michigan State and Kentucky, among others. They finished the year 16-16 ATS as they failed to cover in five straight to end the season. North Carolina also went 7-6 ATS against non-conference foes and 2-1 (SU and ATS) in neutral site games this season. Providence finished the season winning three straight (SU and ATS) to win its conference tournament, earning an 18-15 ATS mark. The Friars went just 5-7 ATS against non-Big East foes, however, while going 5-2 SU (4-3 ATS) on neutral courts. But a telling betting trend in their favor is that they are 28-56 ATS since 1997 after a combined score of 125 points or less.

Which high-octane offense will prevail on Friday night? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts opened the NCAA Tournament with a perfect 7-0 ATS mark in First Four games, making them a stellar 60% ATS (278-185-16) in college basketball Best Bets this season. StatFox Brian is on an amazing Best Bets run of 23-3-2 (89% ATS) since Feb. 6, 32-6-3 (84% ATS) since Jan. 17, and 74% ATS (57-20-3) since Nov. 26 to give him a robust 70% ATS (64-27-4) record in Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave is 65% ATS (41-22-1) since in Best Bets Dec. 18 and 61% ATS (58-37-2) this season, while StatFox Scott is 70% ATS (14-6-2) since Feb. 16 and 59% ATS (54-38-4) for the season. StatFox Gary is 61% ATS (50-32) on Best Bets since Nov. 22 and 57% ATS (54-40-2) for the season, while StatFox Zach 64% ATS (7-4) since March 2.

Providenceís offense tallies 73.2 PPG (107th in Div. I) on a poor 42.5% shooting (265th in Div. I), but makes up for it by outrebounding its opponents by +3.8 RPG. Defensively, the Friars leave a lot to be desired though, giving up 69.5 PPG on 44.2% shooting. They are led by PG Bryce Cotton (21.4 PPG, 5.8 APG), who plays an incredible 39.9 MPG for his team, rarely stepping off the court. The senior hits 2.2 three-pointers per game and carried his team past Creighton in the Big East title game with 23 points on 8-of-18 shooting. The teamís next two scorers come from the post in SF LaDontae Henton (13.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG) and PF Kadeem Batts (12.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG), who are the teamís leading rebounders. Henton is a threat from deep, making 37% threes, while at 6-foot-9, Batts is more of a traditional post player. Sophomore SF Tyler Harris (11.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG) rounds out that trio and is the teamís fourth and final double-digit scorer.

North Carolinaís offense puts up a strong 76.3 PPG (49th in Div. I) on 46.3% shooting (75th in Div. I), utilizing an impressive 15.6 APG (24th in Div. I). The team's best asset is its rebounding, pulling in 39.8 RPG (9th in Div. I) and outrebounding opponents by +4.9 RPG. Defensively, the Tar Heels yield a pedestrian 69.1 PPG, but hold teams to 41.1% shooting. On a team that struggles to make threes (33.5%) and free throws (62.5%, 8th-worst in Div. I), PG Marcus Paige (17.4 PPG, 4.3 APG) stands out, connecting on 39% of his long-range attempts and 88% FT. He finished the year averaging 25.5 PPG in the teamís final two contests, though both were losses. PF James Michael McAdoo (14.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG) is the teamís other main scoring threat, though his issue is his 54% FT clip. McAdoo is supported by a host of other top rebounders in C Brice Johnson (10.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG), SF J.P. Tokoto (9.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG) and PF Kennedy Meeks (7.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG), all of whom make it very difficult for opponents to collect missed shots. SG Leslie McDonald (10.3 PPG) is the teamís main other backcourt weapon, though he isnít much of a shooter either at 31% threes.

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