NCAA Tournament Picks: Creighton Bluejays vs North Carolina Tar Heels
Sunday, March 18, 2012
by Mike Stewart
The Bluejays, among the NCAA leaders in field goal percent and 3-point percentage, managed only 58 points in the opening round but still notched their school-record-tying 29th victory.
North Carolina, the top-seeded team in the Midwest Regional, has won 30 games five times during coach Roy Williams’ nine-year stay. The Tar Heels are no offensive slouches, averaging nearly 82 points.
Creighton Bluejays (29-5): The eighth-seeded Bluejays showed great resiliency in their first-round win over Alabama, using a late 11-0 run to prevail 58-57. It was their second-lowest number of points scored this season. First-team All-America forward Doug McDermott (23.2 points, 8.2 rebounds) had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Creighton will definitely need more from Antoine Young (12.5 points, 7.4 rebounds), who was limited to two points and one rebound in 31 minutes against Alabama. Gonzaga transfer Grant Gibbs (7.1 points, 5.1 assists) had 10 points, six rebounds and four assists. Creighton has won eight straight games.
North Carolina Tar Heels (30-5): Tyler Zeller, the ACC Player of the Year, stepped up big in the first round with 17 points and 15 rebounds against Vermont. Zeller (16.5 points, 9.3 rebounds), who is averaging 24.0 points in his last five games, and Harrison Barnes (16.5 points, 5.2 rebounds) will likely have more difficulty against Creighton’s beefier big men. John Henson has missed three straight games with an injured left wrist and is unlikely to play. Freshman James Michael McAdoo, second cousin to North Carolina great Bob McAdoo, took most of his minutes and showed flashes of brilliance. McAdoo had a career-best 17 points and six rebounds. Kendall Marshall (7.8 points, 9.7 assists) will need to play another smart floor game - he had 11 points in the tournament opener. North Carolina has won 10 of its last 11.
1. North Carolina created 20 turnovers and turned them into 24 points against Vermont.
2. Creighton is 5-0 in Sunday games and 4-0 in one-point games this season.
3. The teams have met twice - not since 1970 - with North Carolina winning both times.
NCAA BASKETBALL PREDICTION: Tar Heels 85, Bluejays 76.
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