Bears, Tar Heels Cruise in NCAA Openers
Neither Baylor nor North Carolina had to break much of a sweat when they opened play in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday. It figures to be a much different story in Saturday’s Round of 32 showdown.
Baylor has the size to contend with North Carolina double-double machine Armando Bacot but can the Tar Heels handle Baylor’s defensive pressure? The Tar Heels are getting plenty of love in the March Madness predictions.
Only Gonzaga, Arizona and Kansas have better odds to reach the Final Four than Baylor (+175). North Carolina is well back at +1800.
Let’s check the latest news, stats, injury reports, and March Madness Odds for North Carolina vs Baylor. We’ve plenty of predictions for you to consider.
North Carolina Shoots Way into Second Round
When No. 8 and No. 9 seeds get together, March Madness odds are counting on a thrilling, down-to-the-wire affair. However, that simply has not been the case. In last year’s tournament, three of the four 8-9 games were decided by more than 10 points. It was pretty much the same story in the 2018 and 2019 tournaments.
So perhaps North Carolina’s dominating win over Marquette shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise, even though a 32-point margin of victory for No. 8 seed North Carolina as a four-point favorite was definitely part of the March Madness predictions.
Marquette led by a point on a pair of occasions early in the game, but a 19-2 run by the Tar Heels featured five 3-pointers and a trip to the foul line for Brady Manek while attempting a 3-pointer.
Manek had 28 points and Caleb Love 23 as North Carolina scored its most points in an NCAA Tournament game since a 103-64 win over Texas Southern in 2017. Manek and Love were a combined 11 of 23 from 3-point range, and the Tar Heels can play with anybody when they are shooting like that.
North Carolina has covered against the Las Vegas oddsin five of its last six games.
No Cryer, No Problem for Baylor
There was still no sign of leading scorer LJ Cryer and top rebounder Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua will be sidelined for the remainder of the season, but that didn’t stop Baylor from winning its seventh straight game in the March Madness bracket.
The Bears never trailed en route to an 85-49 win over Norfolk State.
Baylor was 20 for 27 inside the 3-point line and had 24 assists on 31 made baskets. The Bears have won their last two March Madness openers by an average of 82-52.
Matthew Mayer, who had 28 points in his last four games combined, went off for 22 points to lead five Baylor players scoring in double figures. Jeremy Sochan had 15 points off the bench while James Akinjo had 10 points and 10 assists as Baylor needed less than seven minutes to build up its first double-digit lead of the game and improved to 8-1 against the college basketball spreads in its last nine NCAA Tournament games.
Cryer hasn’t been ruled out for the entire tournament, but Baylor coach Scott Drew said he won’t play in the subregionals. Cryer has played in one game since late January.
Scott Drew says Baylor guard LJ Cryer will not be available this weekend.
— CJ Moore (@CJMooreHoops) March 16, 2022
Baylor is 3-5 against the spread in its last eight games.
North Carolina vs Baylor Head-to-Head
It seems hard to believe that Baylor and North Carolina have never met.
The last time Baylor played a No. 8 seed, the Bears had a tough test against Syracuse in 2019 before winning 78-69 in a game that went well over the total.
North Carolina is 3-3 when playing against a No. 1 seed since 2000. The Tar Heels eliminated Gonzaga 71-65 as a one-point favorite in the 2017 national title game, the last time they faced a top seed.
North Carolina vs Baylor Game Information
- Game: North Carolina (25-9) vs. Baylor (27-6)
- Location: Dickies Arena, Fort Worth, Texas
- Day/Time: Saturday, 12:10 p.m. ET
- Live Stream: TBS.com
- 2022 March Madness bracket
North Carolina vs Baylor Betting Lines
North Carolina vs Baylor Prediction
The competition level will be increasing but Baylor certainly looked like a team capable of making a run deep into the NCAA Tournament after winning the title a season ago. Not having leading scorer Cryer will make Baylor’s chore of returning to the regions much more difficult.
Something to consider for those who bet online: Baylor ranks in the top 20 nationally in offensive rebounds per game while North Carolina is in the top 10 in defensive rebounds, so the battle in the paint should be fun to watch.
It is tempting to go with North Carolina, but until somebody takes down Baylor, it is hard to go against the defending champions.
Pick: Over 148½
Pick: Baylor Bears -5½
Here’s your chance to win $1,000,000. Shoot your shot in the BetUS March Mayhem Bracket Contest.