If defense is your thing, stay away from Sunday’s Sweet 16 tilt between the #5 Auburn Tigers (22-9) and #1 North Carolina Tar Heels (26-5) at Sprint Center (7:29 pm ET). The Tar Heels opened as 6-point chalk with the O/U set at an inflated 161.
Auburn Tigers Preview
The Tigers come into today’s game scorching hot. For the season, they average 80 points per game, 34th overall, but they have gone over 80 three times in their last five games, including torching #4 Kansas for 89 in the Round of 32 (89-75). They now sit 6th in the country in offensive efficiency.
As evidenced by the game total, they haven’t been as imposing on defense, conceding 68 points per game, 96th in America. They are the second-worst defense remaining in the tournament in terms of efficiency, sitting 44th at KenPom.
At the offensive end, they have been paced by Bryce Brown, who’s pouring in a team-leading 16 points per game. On the glass, Chuma Okeke has led the way with 7 rebounds per contest. The Tigers won’t crush you on the boards, but they aren’t the worst of the worst. They are currently 193rd among the 353 DI teams, pulling down 32 rebounds a game.
Brown was tremendous against Kansas dropping 25 points in the win, including going a stellar 7/11 from beyond the arc. He was just one of four Tigers to score in double figures, though, and the three-point happy team wound up hitting at a 43.3% clip from deep on 30 attempts.
UNC Tar Heels Preview
The Tigers will be facing a North Carolina bunch that is equally adept at the offensive end, ranked 8th in offensive efficiency. That has led to the Tar Heels scoring 87 points per game, 3rd in the country.
The Tar Heels aren’t as impressive defensively, but they have been better than Auburn. While they concede more points per game (73 PPG), they also play at a much faster pace (6th-fastest vs 158th-fastest) and rank considerably higher in defensive efficiency (11th vs 44th).
Roy Williams brings a balanced offense to this year’s tournament. Cameron Johnson is their leading scorer, averaging 16.9 PPG, but score-first point guard Coby White is right behind at 16.1 PPG, while Luke Maye adds 14.9 PPG, and freshman Nassir Little is now in double figures, as well, at 10.0 PPG after averaging 19.5 PPG in the first two games of the tourney.
Maye leads the Tar Heels on the glass, grabbing 10 RPG.
Maye’s work on the glass has helped North Carolina dominate that aspect of the game. As a team, they rank 1st on the boards, averaging 40 rebounds a night. They are likely to have a significant rebounding advantage against Auburn.
The Tar Heels were very impressive in the Round of 32, drubbing Washington 81-59. Little led the team in scoring, dropping 20 points in the win.
After that W, North Carolina is now 9-1 in its previous 10 games. But Auburn is coming in even hotter, going 10-0 in its last 10, a run that includes the SEC Tournament title.
Against the spread, North Carolina has covered a majority of its games, going 22-11-2 ATS. But Auburn is a solid 20-15-1 ATS, as well. In a nutshell, both teams have been better than expected this year.
Get the most recent odds, line movement, and game total prediction for Auburn vs North Carolina in the tables above. Best of luck out there.