No. 5 Indiana Hoosiers vs. No. 4 Kentucky Wildcats (-3, 155)
Game to be played at Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, IO
As far as second-round NCAA Tournament matchups go, it doesn’t get much better than Kentucky versus Indiana. The storied programs square off Saturday at Des Moines, Iowa, where the fourth-seeded Wildcats and fifth-seeded Hoosiers aim to build off impressive opening-round victories.
This is the first matchup between the teams since the 2011-12 season, when Indiana upset Kentucky at the buzzer in the regular season before the Wildcats got their revenge in the Sweet 16. “It’s a rivalry because of the history of it, because of the proximity of the two states,” Hoosiers coach Tom Crean told reporters, “but (also) because the two basketball teams have been good when it’s been at its best.” This encounter will pit the Hoosiers’ senior backcourt against the young, talented guards of the Wildcats. Of course, things don’t get any easier for the winner of this game, which likely will face East Region No. 1 seed North Carolina (or potentially ninth-seeded Providence).
TV: 5:15 p.m. ET, CBS
LINE HISTORY: Kentucky opened as 3-point favorites in this Second Round matchup and the line hasn’t moved off that number. The total has been bet down one point from 156 to 155. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT INDIANA (26-7, 18-15 ATS, 16-17 O/U): Senior point guard Yogi Ferrell is the undisputed leader for Indiana, which shot nearly 65 percent from the field and went 10-of-16 from the 3-point line in a resounding 99-74 victory over 12th-seeded Chattanooga in Thursday’s opener. Ferrell led the way with 20 points and 10 assists, while the role players who stepped up included freshman OG Anunoby, who scored 14 points and is averaging 13.5 points on 12-of-13 shooting in his last two games. The bulk of Kentucky’s frontcourt players are veterans, putting additional pressure on Indiana freshman Thomas Bryant (11.6 points, 5.7 rebounds) and junior Troy Williams (13.0, 6.0) to hold their own in the paint.
ABOUT KENTUCKY (27-8, 19-16 ATS, 19-15-1 O/U): The Wildcats trounced No. 13 seed Stony Brook, 85-57, behind Jamal Murray’s 19 points and a solid 13-point, 11-rebound effort from fellow freshman Isaiah Briscoe. The other primary member of Kentucky’s backcourt is Tyler Ulis, the SEC Player of the Year who chipped in 10 points and seven assists against Stony Brook, although it was his lowest-scoring game in more than two months. The Wildcats set an NCAA Tournament record with 15 blocks on Thursday, including six by up-and-down freshman Skal Labissiere and two by senior mainstay Alex Poythress.
* Indiana is 5-1 ATS in its last six non-conference games.
* Kentucky is 6-0 ATS in its last six games overall.
* Over is 20-7 in Indiana’s last 27 non-conference games.
* Over is 6-0 in Kentucky’s last six versus Big Ten opponents.
No. 9 Providence Friars vs, No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels (-9.5, 151)
Game to be played at PNC Arena, Raleigh, NC
Top-seeded North Carolina will look for a sharper effort when it takes on No. 9 seed Providence in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night in Raleigh, N.C. The Tar Heels only led 16th-seeded FGCU by one at halftime before pulling away for an 83-67 victory Thursday in the opening round of the East Regional to extend their winning streak to six.
“We definitely built some momentum in the ACC Tournament, and then we kind of went backward here,” North Carolina forward Brice Johnson told reporters Thursday. “We can definitely get back to where we were. We just have to come back with a different mindset.” Johnson did his part in the victory with 18 points, seven rebounds and eight blocks and will face a difficult challenge inside against Providence’s Ben Bentil, who led the Big East in scoring. The Friars survived 40.3 percent shooting and edged USC 70-69 on Rodney Bullock’s layup with 1.5 seconds left in Thursday’s first round. Providence coach Ed Cooley told reporters it will be a “David-and-Goliath situation” against the Tar Heels, but he added that, “anything, as you can see, can happen in March.”
TV: 9:40 p.m. ET, TBS
LINE HISTORY: The No. 1 ranked Tar Heels opened as 9.5-point home favorites and have yet to move off that number. The total also hasn’t moved since opening at 151. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT PROVIDENCE (24-10, 18-15 ATS, 19-14 O/U): Guard Kris Dunn battled foul trouble that limited him to 27 minutes, but scored 16 against USC and will need a big effort against North Carolina’s talented backcourt. Dunn averages 16 points, 6.3 assists and 2.5 steals while the 6-9 Bentil scores 21.1 per game after pouring in 19 on 7-of-21 shooting Thursday. Bullock (11.7 points, 6.9 rebounds) has strung together two big games in a row, scoring 34 total on 13-of-22 shooting – 6-of-9 from 3-point range — and grabbing 17 rebounds.
ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (29-6, 16-18-1 ATS, 18/17 O/U): The Tar Heels have held 26 straight opponents to under 45 percent shooting from the field but must have a better defensive effort than Thursday if they are to win a championship. Offense is not a concern for North Carolina, which averages 82.3 points with six players registering at least nine per contest. Johnson averages 16.6 points and 10.5 rebounds while Joel Berry II scores 12.7 per game – 16.3 in the last four – and fellow guards Justin Jackson (12.1) and Marcus Paige (12.0) also contribute.
* Providence is 5-1 ATS in its last six games overall.
* North Carolina is 4-1 ATS in its last five games overall.
* Under is 4-1 in Providence’s last five NCAA Tournament games.
* Over is 6-0 in North Carolina’s last six non-conference games.