Free NCAA Basketball pick on North Carolina as they take on Creighton the third round of the NCAA Tournament set to start at 5:15 PM ET, March 18, 2012. Everyone is busy looking for the next upset, but you will not find it here.

North Carolina, the No. 1 seed, is certainly watcvhing the other games in the Tournament, and you can bet head coach Roy Williams is motivating and focusing his team so that they do not fall to the graveyards where Duke and Missouri have fallen. Creighton had an impressive win over a strong SEC team in Alabama Friday, but North Carolina has to much talent and depth for them to pull off a significant upset.

Roy WilliamsRoy Williams is a master motivator and he is 26-0 in NCAA Tournament play facing a team with a win percentage below .700 and is a perfect 7-0 ATS against these teams when favored by single digits. Now, Creighton does not qualify having won 85% of their games, but the preface of preparation by Williams does matter significantly in this matchup.

If anything, he is going to drill into his teams mind that they cannot let up for one second in this game no matter how good they think they are. He will make certain that not one of his players believes they are better than Crieghton. Great coaches in all sports get their players to focus on the present; that means one pass at a time, one play at a time, one score at a time, one rebound at at time, and to allow the scoreboard to take care of itself. There is never a ‘look’ by his teams that they will be playing the Final Four. 

Team Rankings and Matchups

North Carolina has significant advantages against Creighton at both ends of the court in this game. Creighton is one of the best offensive teams in the nation ranking seventh averaging 79.4 points per game, but this even pails in comparison to the Tar Heels. The Tar Heels rank second best in the nation in scoring offense averaging 81.8 points per game. 

Although, both teams are offensive-first minded teams, the Tar Heel defense is monumentally better than the Creighton edition. UNC ranks 144th in the nation in scoring defense allowing opponents to score an average of 66.6 points per game. Creighton, against a far weaker schedule, ranks 228th in scoring defense allowing 69.2 points per game. The ranking is just the tip of the iceberg that shows the great defensive disparity between the two teams and when the strength of schedule is considered, it magnifies the defensive strength that the Tar heels possess in this matchup. 

Both teams are excellent, probably the two best left in the Tournament, in moving the ball and finding the highest percentage shot when on offense. Yet, UNC has greater length than any team Creighton has faced this year. Moreover the Tar Heels, are incredibly strong at anticipating opponents’ ball movements and cutting off passing lanes. This will make it more difficult for Creighton to run their half court offensive sets while UNC will continue to have a far easier time executing and scoring points. 

REBOUNDING

Creighton vs. North Carolina

This is a very important facet of this game. UNC ranks best in the country in total team rebounding averaging 44.8 rebounds per game. In a 40 minute game that is more than one rebound per minute and only a handful of teams have posted these impressive numbers. Creighton is a solid 84th in the country averaging 36.1 rebounds per game.

Breaking this total rebounding component down into offensive and defensive categories shows the Tar Heel dominance. Strong rebounding on the defensive end serves two main purposes. One is that it limits an opponents second chance scoring opportunities and second, it creates the opportunity to look for fast break scoring opportunities in transition situations. 

Creighton ranks 266th in the nation averaging just 8.3 offensive rebounds per game. By comparison the Tar Heels rank second best averaging 14.0 offensive boards per game. I strongly believe that the Tar Heels will have at least 10 more total rebounds than Creighton in this game. 

The College Basketball Betting Line

The college basketball betting lines for this game opened with the Tar Heels installed as solid nine point favorites. I do not see the NCAA basketball odds goig up, however, despite my bullish enthusiasm for them to easily win this game.

With the two major upsets yesterday, the sports betting public now will be looking to fall in love with the dogs, who are playing the so-called Giants of the game. I believe, if anything, this line could fall to North Carolina favored by eight points.

Free College Basketball Pick: Tar Heels to cover