USA TODAY Sports
Game to be played at Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Top-seeded North Carolina may be peaking at just the right time and only ACC-rival Notre Dame stands in the way of a trip to the Final Four. The Tar Heels have won eight straight games – the last three in the NCAA Tournament by a combined 50 points – as they prepare to take on sixth seed Notre Dame in the East Regional final on Sunday at Philadelphia.
“One game away,” North Carolina forward Brice Johnson told reporters after his team shot 51.6 percent from the field in a 101-86 win over Indiana on Friday. “We’re not done. We’ve got to go out there and play.” Senior point guard Marcus Paige’s revival is taking the Tar Heels’ offense to a new level after he matched the program record in the NCAA Tournament with six 3-pointers and scored 21 on Friday – his highest output since registering the same against Notre Dame on Feb. 6. The Fighting Irish won that contest 80-76 at home, but were held to 30 percent shooting in a 78-47 loss to North Carolina in the ACC tournament semifinals. Notre Dame has won six games combined in consecutive NCAA Tournaments for the first time in its history and reached the Elite Eight for the second straight year after losing to Kentucky in 2015.
TV: 8:49 p.m. ET, TBS
LINE HISTORY: No. 1 seeded North Carolina opened as big 10.5-point favorites over Notre Dame, but early money was backing the Irish, moving the line to the current number of Tar Heels -10. As for the total, the number opened at 156 and has been bet down one point to the current number of 155. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT NOTRE DAME (24-11, 16-16-1 ATS, 16-17 O/U): Forward V.J. Beachem has been a major factor in the NCAA Tournament while averaging 17.3 points in three games – more than five above his seasonal average – and draining 9-of-17 from 3-point range. Point guard Demetrius Jackson leads the team in scoring (15.5) and assists (4.7) while forward Zach Auguste (14.3 points, team-high 10.9 rebounds) has 22 double-doubles. The Irish have won their three NCAA games by a combined 13 points after a 61-56 triumph against Wisconsin on Friday and go after their first Final Four appearance since 1978.
ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (31-6, 18-18-1 ATS, 19-18 O/U): Johnson (16.8 points, 10.5 rebounds) has recorded 22 double-doubles to tie Billy Cunningham (1964) for the single-season team record and needs 13 boards to boast the most in program history for one campaign. Paige, who struggled shooting most of this season (39.6 percent), may still be the key to unlock a sixth NCAA title for the Tar Heels after making 11-of-21 from 3-point range in the last three games. Paige told reporters, “I just wanted to stay aggressive, and the rim looked pretty big to me (Friday) so I hope it’s just the arena so I can do it again on Sunday.”
* Notre Dame is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
* North Carolina is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games overall.
* Under is 5-1 in Notre Dame’s last six games versus a team with a winning SU record.
* Under is 5-1 in the last six meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Bettors think 10-points is too many to be favored by at this point in the tourney and early on 58 percent of wagers are backing Notre Dame. When it comes to the total, 67 percent of wagers are on the over.