Saint Peter’s vs. North Carolina Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions: NCAA Tournament Elite 8 Preview for Sunday, March 27
Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: KC Ndefo (11) and his Saint Peter’s Peacocks teammates.
- The No. 15 seed Saint Peter's Peacocks have already made college basketball postseason history by advancing to the Elite 8. Their next test? The North Carolina Tar Heels.
- The Tar Heels opened as 8-point favorites with the game total at 136.5. The point spread has mostly held up as of Sunday afternoon, but the over/under has been but up to 137.5 to 138.5 depending on the specific sportsbook.
- College basketball betting analyst Tanner McGrath previews today's NCAA Tournament Elite 8 matchup, including updated odds and his betting pick for Saint Peter's vs. North Carolina.
Saint Peter’s vs. North Carolina Odds
|St. Peter’s Odds|
-110o / -110u
|North Carolina Odds|
-110o / -110u
The Saint Peter’s Peacocks are putting together the greatest Cinderella run of all time. Doug Edert and co. have taken the world by storm.
There is a world where the No. 15 seed Peacocks beats Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke and Kansas to win a national title. That is the timeline I want to live in.
But first, Saint Peter’s has to get past the red-hot Tar Heels.
After a super shaky start to the season, UNC has ripped through the second half of the season. The Heels have won nine of 10 games and recorded all the Quad 1 wins it was missing.
But is this just a hot streak for the Heels? Or, is it time for the Cinderella story to end?
As of writing, the Peacocks are 8-point underdogs and the total is hanging around 137.
How has St. Peter’s done it?
The Peacocks have had a little luck on their side. That’s not an insult; every great Cinderella story needs a few breaks. Nonetheless, all three of Saint Peter’s wins have been ShotQuality losses.
Image credit: ShotQuality
Saint Peter’s three NCAA Tournament opponents have combined to shoot 17-for-60 (28.3%) from the 3-point line
In the team’s most recent win over Purdue, superstar Jaden Ivey shot just 4-for-12 from the field, scoring nine points and recording six turnovers. And if it wasn’t for a last-second miracle 3, Ivey would’ve finished with six points.
Still, for all that positive variance in the Peacocks’ favor, we can’t take away what St. Peter’s has done well.
The Peacocks run a five-out spread offense that excels in a few key areas.
First, SPU attacks the rim ferociously: Its finishing-at-the-rim frequency (53%) ranks first in Division-I college basketball..
Second, St. Peter’s gets a lot of action on off-screen and cutting sets, which it sets up from the five-out set. The Peacocks were 12th nationally in off-screen ShotQuality PPP (1.11). The offense’s backdoor cuts caught Kentucky off guard all game long.
Finally, St. Peter’s is a catch-and-shoot menace. The Peacocks finished seventh in catch-and-shoot SQ PPP (1.21).
Head coach Shaheen Halloway wrote up some beautiful game plans for this run, playing to his squad’s strengths. The team played with enough confidence to execute those plans to perfection.
And don’t forget about the defense, which is truly where the Peacocks shine.
Image credit: CBB Analytics
Saint Peter’s ranks 24th in defensive efficiency and seventh in eFG% allowed (44.2%). Behind three-time MAAC defensive player of the year KC Ndefo, the Peacocks have stifled opposing offenses and blocked shots at a top-15 rate nationally.
North Carolina head coach Hubert Davis had some growing pains. But the Tar Heels’ talent has always been there.
The Tar Heels frontcourt is arguably the most talented in the nation. Brady Manek and Armando Bacot are two dangerous offensive scorers and anchor the second-best defensive rebounding team in the country.
The Heels are also tactful on the defensive end, avoiding foul trouble at all costs. UNC limits opponents to the eighth-lowest free-throw rate in the nation, which could be a problem for a Saint Peter’s team that relies heavily on getting to the line.
Moreover, the Tar Heels’ size should also be an issue for a smaller mid-major like Saint Peter’s.
But — we said that about Purdue, and the Boilermakers never capitalized. In fact, the Heels didn’t really capitalize on their frontcourt advantage against UCLA.
Instead, it took Caleb Love going thermonuclear for North Carolina to overcome an 8-point deficit and pull out a close game. Love finished with 27 points in the second half while shooting 6-for-13 from deep — including a last-second dagger to effectively end the game.
I’m concerned that North Carolina’s guards will regress slights in the upcoming game against St. Peter’s. The Heels backcourt put together a gritty performance out-shooting one of the top shot-making teams in the nation.
In its next game, UNC must target its frontcourt more frequently. When Manek and Bacot are making shots, playing off each other, and overwhelming opposing front lines, the Heels are playing their best basketball.
Also, look for the Heels to try and control the pace here. UNC plays fast (52nd in tempo) while Saint Peter’s tries to slow the game down (242nd in tempo).
Saint Peter’s vs. North Carolina Betting Pick
The Saint Peter’s vs. North Carolina game total is already taking sharp money on the over, pushing it up from the 136.5 open. Furthermore, while only 50% of the tickets are on the over, more than 85% of the handle is betting over 137.
We should see enough possessions and offensive advantages for this game to be played in the high 60s or low 70s.
North Carolina will play fast. But more importantly, the Heels hopefully learn from Purdue’s mistakes and get the ball into the interior.
Plus, we should see plenty of foul shots. The Tar Heels can take advantage of the Peacocks’ penchant for fouling; meanwhile, the Peacocks will attack the rim unrelentingly.
North Carolina is also a top-25 free-throw shooting team. Saint Peter’s hasn’t shot well season-long but has been lights out from the charity stripe in this tournament — SPU is 60-for-73 (82.2%) from the line in its three NCAA Tournament games.
If we can’t get to 138 from the field, we should be able to get there from the free throw line.