The public projects North Carolina versus Oregon as an offensive duel in the Arizona desert. The total has risen like the noon-day sun to 151.5.
If such a volume is to be realized, somebody's gotta do some scoring.
That does not translate into every player hitting or exceeding his average. In fact, the teams score at a combined clip of 181.
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So the following prop plays include two individual Unders to go along with one Over.
Leading off is an aggregate teams selection. (Numbers are courtesy of the Westgate LV SuperBook.)
Total 3-point field goals: 15
Each team's games are averaging about 15 threes, so it makes sense that this is the number posted.
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What does inform us is Oregon's range of seven to 11 long-distance baskets in its four tourney outings. The next encounter figures to be high-scoring, and the total should go northward as the Ducks launch more from afar to avoid driving to the rim against the Tar Heels? armada of big men.
UNC can knock down the three as well. The Tar Heels have relied on their post men so far, but the presence of a certain Ducks rim protector (see below) could flip the script.
Total points for North Carolina's Isaiah Hicks: 12
The Tar Heels' big man gets most of his buckets right at the rim. Two words why they won't come as easily as usual: Jordan Bell.
The Ducks' rim protector was a shot-blocking fiend in the Elite Eight game, and he will prevent Hicks for hitting his season average of 12.1.
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We could have inserted fellow post player Kennedy Meeks into this slot. Hicks' total is 12.5, a fraction above his average. But he wields some nice moves on the block that are lacking in Hicks, who was in single digits for three of four previous NCAA outings.
Total points for North Carolina's Joel Berry II: 15.5
Berry has dished more than scored in two of three games against formidable NCAA competition. He tallied just 10 against Arkansas and 11 against Kentucky, with a 26 versus Butler in between.
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Look for more of the Berry who averages 14.6 this season. A week of resting his sore ankles will restore the spring in his step.
And, if Oregon is fouling while playing catch-up in the waning moments, this is the guy who will be toeing the foul line.
Total points for Jordan Bell: 11.5
The same scenario cited above for Hicks applies here. Bell will be looking defenders in the eye, and the buckets will not come as easily.
He has hardly been a scoring machine so far, with six points against Rhode Island and 11 against Kansas. Michigan did yield 16 to him, but the Wolverines are weak interior defenders.
Bell will spend enormous amounts of energy on the defensive end, which will leave little oomph for scoring.
Most Valuable Player
UNC's Justin Jackson is the odds-on favorite for 2017 NCAA Tournament MVP:
- Justin Jackson (North Carolina) 7/2
- Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga) 4/1
- Joel Berry (North Carolina) 5/1
- Dillon Brooks (Oregon) 7/1
- Tyler Dorsey (Oregon) 7/1
- Sindarius Thornwell (South Carolina) 15/2
- Kennedy Meeks (North Carolina) 8/1
- Jonathan Williams (Gonzaga) 8/1
- Isaiah Hicks (North Carolina) 12/1
- Jordan Mathews (Gonzaga) 12/1
- Jordan Bell (Oregon) 17/1
- Przemek Karnowski (Gonzaga) 19/1
- Dylan Ennis (Oregon) 35/1
- PJ Dozier (South Carolina) 55/1
- Duane Notice (South Carolina) 55/1
- Chris Silva (South Carolina) 55/1