#1 Pittsburgh (27-5) vs. #16 North Carolina-Asheville (20-13)
Betting Line TBA
The top-seeded Pittsburgh Panthers (27-5) will try to bounce back from a disappointing finish in the Big East Conference Tournament when they face the 16th-seeded North Carolina-Asheville Bulldogs (20-13) on Thursday in a Southeast Region second-round matchup of the NCAA Tournament at the Verizon Center. The Panthers were also the top seed in the Big East Tourney but fell victim to #9 Connecticut and star guard Kemba Walker in a 76-74 loss last Thursday.
Walker hit the Game-winning shot as time expired, faking out Pitt center Gary McGhee. The loss overshadowed an otherwise outstanding performance from Panthers guard Ashton Gibbs, who scored a Game-high 27 points on 10 of 13 shooting, including 6 of 7 from 3-point range. The positive from the loss is that the team has been able to rest a full week before the Big Dance.
The same can’t be said for the Bulldogs, who gutted out an 81-77 overtime victory against Arkansas-Little Rock on Tuesday in the First Four at the University of Dayton Arena. After the Game, they quickly boarded a plane for Washington, D.C. Matt Dickey and J.P. Primm each scored 22 points to lead Asheville to the win. Dickey scored 14 of the team’s last 18 points in regulation, including the Game-tying 3-pointer with 10.5 seconds remaining.
The Bulldogs have now won seven in a row and finished third in the Big South Conference during the regular season. They got to the First Four by knocking off top seed Coastal Carolina in the Tournament title Game on March 5, 61-47. The team jumped out to a 29-22 halftime lead and rolled in the second half, winning as 5-point underdogs.
UNC-Asheville has played five lined Games heading into the second round, going 3-0-1 against the spread, with all three covers coming in the Conference Tournament. The total has gone UNDER in three of the team’s Four postseason Games so far.
Before the Big East Tournament, Pittsburgh went 15-3 against Conference foes and closed out the regular season by winning three of their last Four Games both straight-up and ATS. The Panthers held six of their last seven opponents to 60 points or less with the UNDER cashing each time. The exception was a 62-59 overtime loss at Louisville that was tied 56-56 at the end of regulation. The UNDER also was 9-4 in the team’s Games away from home this season, including 2-2 at neutral sites.
Predicted SCore: Pitt 89 NC Asheville 52