Odds taken from DraftKings Sportsbook
The Marquette Golden Eagles will match up with the UNC Tar Heels on the first day of March Madness.
These teams have only played each other six times, but their most recent matchup was last season.
The Marquette Golden Eagles play in the challenging Big East conference and had an underwhelming season. They went 11-8 in conference play and struggled against unranked teams. Even though they did not play that well, they have a couple of bright spots on their roster.
Those bright spots are forward Justin Lewis and guard Darryl Morsell. Lewis is a 6’7” freshman forward that averages 17.1 points and 7.9 rebounds. He shoots the ball well and hits over 45% of his shots. Darryl Morsell plays differently than Lewis. He is 6’5” but plays the guard position and focuses more on scoring. He averages 13.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. Defensively, Marquette is anchored by Kur Kath. Kath only plays 19.1 minutes per game but averages 2.5 blocks.
The UNC Tar Heels finished their regular season strong when they beat Duke 94-81 in Coach K’s last home game. UNC had a few losses early on in conference play but went on a five-game winning streak to end the season. They have a high-scoring offense and have four players (Armando Bacot, Caleb Love, Brady Manek, and RJ Davis) scoring 13 points or more per game.
Armando Bacot is the leader of this group. He averages 12.5 rebounds per game, the third-best in the nation. Bacot also protects the rim well and averages 1.7 blocks per game. UNC struggles on defense, but their offense should make up for it in this game. They have beaten much more difficult teams than Marquette this season, so I am choosing them to win this game.
UNC beats Marquette 74-69. UNC covers, Under 152 points.
|Marquette Golden Eagles||Head-to-Head||UNC Tar Heels|
|Shaka Smart||Head Coach||Hubert Davis|
|19-12 (11-8, 6th in Big East)||Standing||24-9 (15-5, 2nd in SEC)|
|Leader (Per Game)|
|Justin Lewis (17.2)||PPG||Armando Bacot (16.5)|
|Justin Lewis (7.9)||RPG||Armando Bacot (12.5)|
|Tyler Kolek (5.7)||APG||Caleb Love (3.8)|
|Tyler Kolek (1.4)||SPG||Caleb Love (1.1)|
|Kur Kuath (2.5)||BPG||Armando Bacot (1.7)|
|Kur Kuath (.718)||FG%||Armando Bacot (.598)|
|Kam Jones (.396)||3P%||Brady Manek (.386)|
The Marquette Golden Eagles are the underdogs, but they can win this game if they avoid turnovers and box out for rebounds.
Marquette does not have one player that turns the ball over excessively, but they do have three players averaging two or more turnovers a game. As a team, they average 12.5 turnovers. That is not an absurd amount, but it is too many. The Golden Eagles have to protect the ball and avoid turnovers. This should not be too difficult, as UNC only averages 5.4 steals per game.
Marquette rebounds well but does not have one dominant rebounder. They will face a UNC squad with one of the best rebounders in the nation in Armando Bacot. They have to box out Bacot and get every defensive rebound.
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The Tar Heels are the favorites, but not by a lot. They have to hit outside shots and slow down Justin Lewis.
Marquette has a lot of guards but still protects the rim well. They average 5.1 blocks per game. Since Marquette makes it hard to score at the rim, UNC will have to hit their outside shots. The Tar Heels have a lot of shooters, so this should not be too difficult.
Justin Lewis provides the most scoring for Marquette. He can hit threes, score at the rim, and hit free throws. Since he is so versatile, UNC needs to slow him down and make him look for his teammates.
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I did not expect to pick Tyler Kolek as the Golden Eagles key player, but after looking deeper at his stats, I realized how critical he is to this team. Kolek is a 6’3” pass-first point guard with quick hands.
Kolek’s stats do not stand out; he averages 6.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 1.4 steals. However, the freshman has been thrust into the starting role for this team and has done a good job so far. He runs the offense well and is an efficient passer, always looking for his teammates.
This was not a surprising choice. Armando Bacot is a 240-lb junior who gets to the rim and rebounds with ease. He takes close, high-percentage shots and hits 59.8% of them.
Bacot is a dominant rebounder and averages almost 3.8 offensive rebounds per game. He also protects the rim on defense and averages 1.7 blocks per game. He needs to continue being dominant in this game, or UNC’s season will end tomorrow.
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|Marquette Golden Eagles vs UNC Tar Heels Information|
|What||Marquette Golden Eagles vs UNC Tar Heels|
|Where||Dickies Arena, Fort Worth, Texas|
|When||Thursday, March 17, 4:30 PM EST|
|How to Watch||CBS|
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Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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