North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs Pick 12/18/19
North Carolina Tar Heels (6-4 SU, 2-8 ATS) vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs (11-1 SU, 7-5 ATS)
When: Wednesday, December 18, at 9 p.m.
Where: McCarthey Athletic Center, Spokane, Wash.
Point Spread: UNC +12/GONZ -12 (Bet365)
Total: O/U 145.5
Last Time Out:
North Carolina lost 68-64 to Wofford; Gonzaga defeated Arizona 84-80.
Scouting the Tar Heels:
This was supposed to be a showdown of top teams, but the Tar Heels haven’t lived up to their end of the bargain. North Carolina’s offense wasn’t that good when Cole Anthony was healthy, and now that he’s not, it’s a wonder as to where the points are going to come from. Carolina is down two starters for several weeks, as Leaky Black is also injured, sapping the Heels of their depth. With Anthony out, the Heels lose 19 points a game, and that’s a real problem for a team that hasn’t broken 65 points in any of its previous three contests. To be fair, two of those games were against Virginia and Ohio State, two of the best defensive squads in the nation, but the Heels simply don’t have any other scoring options who can really get going.
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Scouting the Bulldogs:
Gonzaga can score in bunches, and the offense flows through Filip Petrusev first and foremost. Petrusev has been almost unstoppable inside, and with good shooters in forwards Corey Kispert and Killian Tillie around him, Gonzaga has plenty of options for putting up points. The Bulldogs once again showed they could score with anyone by putting up 84 on Arizona, but the one issue they showed in the win was that they don’t necessarily know how to close games out. Against the Wildcats, Gonzaga had the game comfortably won but played carelessly enough that it ended up having to make its free throws to finish the contest. That could be an Achilles’ heel to be exploited eventually, but Gonzaga hasn’t faced a team capable of that yet.
Emotion. This is the biggest game that Gonzaga has ever played on its home court, as it’s the first time that they’ve gotten a genuine “blue blood” from outside of the West to come play them at McCarthey. Most times, big-name teams will play Gonzaga either at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena or even at KeyArena in Seattle, which is still a home court for Gonzaga but offers a much bigger venue. But North Carolina was willing to play on campus, and tickets are going for four figures to this 6,000 seat arena.
This game is precisely the type of match that Dean Smith always wanted North Carolina to play in but rarely got the chance. Nobody is giving the Heels a chance in a game where they are down two starters and facing a great team and a fired-up home crowd. Will the emotion energize Gonzaga, or overwhelm it and allow Carolina to stay in the game?
North Carolina will Cover if:
The Tar Heels can keep Gonzaga off the glass. This is still a North Carolina team, and the Heels still rebound like a North Carolina team. Gonzaga gets a fair amount of points off the glass, and that’ll be a challenge against a Carolina squad that grabbed 51 rebounds against Wofford without Anthony. If the Heels can clean up on the glass, they have a chance.
Gonzaga will Cover if:
The Bulldogs can get off to a fast start. North Carolina is reeling after three straight losses, and the Heels need any kind of reason to believe that they can play with the likes of Gonzaga. If Carolina gets an opening, it will likely take it and make the most of it. But if Gonzaga can cut off their hopes, this game could get ugly. The Bulldogs are the better and healthier team, and this Tar Heel team is looking for a spark. Gonzaga can’t let them get one. The Bulldogs need to keep the crowd lively.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
Carolina is a mess. This Tar Heel team wasn’t that good with Anthony in the lineup, and without him, there’s a major question as to where the points will come from. Armando Bacot could be a solid option inside, but it’s hard to see how he can reliably do that against the likes of Gonzaga’s front line. The Bulldogs are going to be fired up for this game, they’re playing well, and it’s really hard to see Carolina scoring at their level without Anthony.
It’s hard to say it, but this one really could be a rout. This is not a good North Carolina team right now, and it’s going against a very good Gonzaga squad. Give me the Bulldogs. Bet the UNC/Zags game for FREE by taking advantage of a special 100% REAL CASH bonus (only offered to Predictem readers!) from one of the web’s best bookmakers —> MyBookie! (Must use bonus code PREDICT100)