Notre Dame vs. North Carolina -7 O/U 158.5
Roy Williams always wants his team to play fast, and in neutral court settings, Williams has been an Over machine: 20-7 to the Over in the Tar Heels last 27 neutral site games. North Carolina really pushed the pace yesterday against Pitt, hanging 88 points on the generally slower paced Panthers. Perhaps most importantly, North Carolina’s struggling three point shooters – Marcus Paige and Joel Berry – both hit multiple three pointers, enjoying the friendly Verizon Center court.
When these two teams played in the ACC Tournament Championship Game last year, we saw a truly wild shootout, with the Irish winning 90-82. The old joke about Roy Williams having a tee time set for the Saturday of the ACC tournament – a coach who historically has placed much more importance on the Big Dance than the conference tourney – simply isn’t the case this year. North Carolina has something to prove and something to gain in this year’s tourney; not a throwaway game for the Tar Heels by any stretch of the imagination this time around. And that means we’re likely to see the Tar Heels playing 40 minutes in their uptempo style.
But the real key here is what Notre Dame wants to do. Head coach Mike Brey is known for changing his pace mid-season. Bettors still remember what Brey did when leading scorer Luke Harangody got hurt back in 2010, and the Irish slowed their offense to a crawl for the rest of the season. That resulted in a 15-4 run to the Under, including eight straight Under cashes to close out the campaign
Well, Brey made a similar (and significant) change last week. In practice he installed a 20 second shot clock, then an 18 second clock, jokingly calling his new pace the "no-huddle" offense. His quote: “I think it's very good for (point guard) Demetrius (Jackson). That was one of the reasons that I thought we needed to do it, to get him moving.” Brey continued: "Maybe we take some semi-bad shots. I don't care. We're going to go. We're going to roll. It has us playing downhill, and we get some easy buckets in transition instead of playing against a set defense."
So, to recap. North Carolina wants to push the pace. Notre Dame wants to push the pace. These two teams have a history of uptempo affairs. The sight lines at the Verizon Center are good for shooters. And the markets haven’t fully adjusted to Notre Dame’s new style of play. Put it all together and the Over is clearly worthy of a wager tonight in a game that has shootout written all over it.