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Texas Southern

vs.

North Carolina

March Madness

Pick

3/17/17

exas Southern is in the tournament yet again as a 16-seed, its third time in four years. As for North Carolina, it's a No. 1 seed for the second-straight season after losing in the National Championship a year ago. In one of the biggest spreads of the first round, UNC is a -27 point favorite at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

The Tar Heels ran through the tournament a year ago with all five of their wins coming by at least 14 points, but winning by 27 is not an easy thing to bet on, especially in a tournament. If the Heels get out to a large lead, it'd be likely they rest a lot of starters in order to be fresh for the next round. That said, Texas Southern has been gashed by every relevant opponent this season. The Tigers lost by 22 points to Arizona, 31 to Louisville, 38 to Cincinnati, 37 to TCU and 26 to Baylor. There's a reason this spread is so large.

What doesn't help is that this may be one of the worst matchups possible for Texas Southern. Their leading rebounder, Derrick Griffin, left mid-season to focus on the NFL Draft. Seven-footer Marvin Jones will have to fend for himself on the boards against the huge UNC team with the 6-10 Stephan Bennett helping out. But outside of those two, the Tigers have absolutely no size with four players coming in under 6-feet tall. At the two forward spots, 6-4 Kevin Scott and 6-3 Zach Lofton play most of the game. Texas Southern may be able to keep up on the scoreboard for a short time through Lofton (17.0 ppg) and point guard Demontrae Jefferson (14.9 ppg), but that's about it.

North Carolina has one of the bigger teams in the nation with Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks in the frontcourt and Justin Jackson at the three-spot. That doesn't even count Luke Maye and Tony Bradley coming off the bench, so when the Heels take their foot off the gas, it'll still be hard for Texas Southern to stay close. Guards Joel Berry, Nate Britt and Theo Pinson will also all have size advantages, making 100 points not out of the question for North Carolina.

In those Texas Southern losses mentioned above, it's important to note Griffin was a part of the team in that period. He had a ridiculous 26 rebounds against Louisville and was near double digits in the other losses. Playing against the SWAC without Griffin cannot compare to what the Tigers will face in this game. One way they would be able to keep up was if they could shoot the ball, but no one on the team has more than 40 three-pointers made and they shoot less than 30% from range as a team.

This spread is large, but with offensive rebounds not expected for an already bad shooting team, the Tar Heels could be headed for a 30 or even 40-point win. Of course, that's if North Carolina gives full effort. There's always the chance they look at this matchup similar to this write up and don't put everything in. At the least, betting Texas Southern would be the toughest way to go.

Our Pick -  NC -26.5

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