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No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 9 Wisconsin preview for NCAA Tournament first-round matchup

The No. 8 North Carolina and No. 9 Wisconsin face off in the first round of the 2021 NCAA tournament. We’ve got an initial preview of what and how to watch following Selection Sunday.

North Carolina Tar Heels forward Armando Bacot (5) drives the ball against Syracuse Orange guard Buddy Boeheim (35) in the second half at the Carrier Dome. Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA Tournament begins on Thursday, March 18th with the First Four, and then moves on to the first round on Friday, March 15 and Saturday, March 16. The No. 8 seed North Carolina Tar Heels will face the No. 9 seed Wisconsin Badgers in the first round. Game time has yet to be announced but we will update this article with that and game odds as soon as it comes available. For now, we’ve got a preliminary preview of the two teams to get you ready for March Madness!

Once the odds from DraftKings Sportsbook are made available for this game, we’ll add that information below. We’ll also add the game time and TV channel once it’s settled.

Game date: Friday, March 19
Game time: 7:10 p.m. ET
TV channel: CBS
Location: Mackey Arena

Odds: UNC -2.5
Over/Under: 139

No. 8 North Carolina

UNC isn’t the powerhouse it usually is this year. The AP had the Tar Heels ranked 16th in the country ahead of the 2020 season, but Week 5 marked the last time they cracked the top 25 in the country. North Carolina ended the regular-season as a middle-of-the-pack team despite facing underwhelming ACC competition, but taking down No. 15 Florida State and No. 22 Virginia Tech ahead of its elimination from the ACC tournament worked wonders for the Tar Heels ahead of March Madness.

UNC doesn’t have a true star this season and depends on its bigs — Armando Bacot, Day’Ron Sharpe, and Garrison Brooks — heavily. The Tar Heels have been able to make up for their lack of elite guard play by utilizing their physicality in post. Its three-headed dragon of forwards is a big reason UNC dominates the boards better than any team in college basketball.

Record: 18-10, 10-6 ACC
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 52
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 14
ATS: 13-13-2
Over Total: 13-15
Odds to win NCAA Championship: +4000

No. 9 Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Badgers had high expectations heading into the 2020-21 season, but they struggled to find a rhythm with inconsistent play in the Big Ten. Ranked as high as fourth this season, Wisconsin hasn’t won consecutive games since mid-January. The Badgers shoot a high volume of 3-pointers, but they struggled to connect consistently especially against the better teams in the Big Ten.

Wisconsin relies on defense, which comes in at No. 11 in adjusted efficiency this season. The Badgers are led by D’Mitrik Trice, who is putting up 14 points per game with a team-high 3.9 assists. Big man Micah Potter leads Wisconsin with six rebounds per game to go along with 12.5 points, which is second on the team. The Badgers’ NCAA Tournament success will likely come down to whether they can make 3-pointers consistently.

Record: 17-12, 10-10
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 32
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 13
ATS: 12-15-2
Over Total: 14-14-1
Odds to win NCAA Championship: +4000