Arkansas-North Carolina Could Be Highest-Scoring NCAA Tournament Game
Points have been at a premium in this college basketball season, with many calling for the NCAA to lower the shot clock to 30 seconds, if not 24, as well as moving the 3-point arc back a bit to help open up the lane. It has been occasionally hard to watch college basketball this season, especially a club like Virginia, if you aren’t a die-hard fan. However, Saturday’s Round of 32 NCAA Tournament matchup between No. 5 Arkansas and No. 4 North Carolina should be a very high-scoring, up-and-down affair. UNC opened as a 4.5-point favorite at Bovada with a huge total of 157 that’s easily the highest of Round 2.
Heels Nearly Blew Big Lead
Both teams are rather lucky to be here. The Heels beat No. 13 Harvard 67-65 on Thursday. Crimson star Siyani Chambers’ four-point play put Harvard ahead 65-63 with 1:15 remaining. It was the only lead of the game for the Ivy League champions. Heels freshman Justin Jackson hit a tying jumper in the final minute and then had a fast-break dunk to all but clinch it. Chambers misfired on a pair of 3-pointers in the closing seconds, and the Crimson’s final chance for victory — Wesley Saunders’ shot from beyond the arc — bounced off the back of the rim.
North Carolina (25-11) outscored Harvard 36-22 in the paint, including Jackson’s game-winning dunk with 22 seconds remaining. The Tar Heels entered the game averaging 37.8 paint points, second most among major conference teams (Duke – 38.0). But then UNC should have dominated Harvard down low. However, Harvard outscored North Carolina 29-6 off turnovers, the most the Tar Heels have allowed in a game in the last four seasons. That is one of the biggest reasons Harvard had a chance to win. North Carolina dominated every other category: shooting (55 percent to 38 percent), rebounding (35-26) and 3-pointers (71 percent to 38 percent).
Hogs Off Defnsively
Arkansas (27-8) thrives on forcing turnovers with its full-court pressure defense. The Razorbacks edged No. 12 Wofford 56-53. Michael Qualls scored 20 points, Southeastern Conference player of the year Bobby Portis added 15 points and 13 rebounds. Arkansas escaped a slow-paced, back-and-forth game in the West Regional that featured 18 lead changes, 10 ties and neither team ahead by more than five points. In his past seven games, Qualls has scored at least 15 points. He was named to the SEC all-tournament team after averaging a team-high 17.7 points. So Qualls is hitting his stride at the right time for Arkansas.
The Hogs won despite scoring seven points off turnovers, tied for its fewest in a game this season. The Razorbacks average 19.2 points per game off turnovers, second among major conference teams (West Virginia – 20.7). The Razorbacks did improve to 10-2 in games decided by six or fewer points this season.
Turnover will decide this one. Arkansas is 20-0 when forcing 15 or more turnovers this season. Under Anderson, Arkansas has forced its opponents into 20 turnovers 28 times, including eight times this season. In those games, Arkansas is 27-1.
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