Creighton (29-5) vs. North Carolina (30-5)
Sunday, March 18, 5:15 p.m. (ET)
The Sports Network
By T.J. Wiseley, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Greensboro Coliseum Complex (23,000) -- Greensboro, North Carolina. Television: CBS. NCAA Record: Creighton 10-17, UNC 106-40. Series Record: UNC leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: A trip to the Sweet 16 is on the line tonight in Greensboro, when the top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels square off against the No. 8 Creighton Bluejays at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex.
Creighton earned its first win in the NCAA Tournament in 10 years on Friday afternoon, outlasting Alabama in a 58-57 final. The Bluejays have never won consecutive NCAA Tournament games, but the club has been on fire lately with eight consecutive decisions.
As for North Carolina, the Tar Heels overcame the loss of starter John Henson due to injury, and rolled past 16th-seeded Vermont, 77-58, on Friday to improve to 31-1 in NCAA Tournament contests played in their home state. The Tar Heels have now notched victories in 10 of their last 12, and boast a 30-5 overall ledger. UNC currently owns a 106-40 mark in Tournament play.
UNC owns a 2-0 edge in the brief all-time history between the two programs. The winner of this game will take on either Ohio or South Florida in the Sweet 16.
Josh Jones missed a pair of free throws with 8.7 seconds remaining, but the junior guard made up for it at the other end of the court by blocking a three- point attempt from Alabama's Trevor Releford to preserve a one-point victory. Doug McDermott, the MVP of the Missouri Valley Conference and the nation's third-leading scorer (23.2 points per game) was held scoreless for more than 14 minutes at one point, but still finished with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead all scorers. Grant Gibbs added 10 points and grabbed six boards as well for the Bluejays, while Ethan Weagge logged nine points in just 14 minutes of action. The Bluejays shot 44.0 percent from the field during the meeting, making good on 9-of-21 from long range in the process, but did struggle at the charity stripe with an abysmal 5-for-13 performance that included three crucial misses during the final 30 seconds.
The Bluejays lead the country in field goal percentage (50.7 percent), and also top all remaining NCAA Tournament teams in assists per game, with 17.8 dishes per contest. The squad averages 79.4 ppg, a mark good enough for ninth in the nation, and has got it done at the other end of the court more often than not with 69.2 ppg allowed to adversaries. In addition to his scoring prowess, McDermott leads the way for the Bluejays on the glass as well (8.2 rpg). Antoine Young has been a solid complement in the scoring column at 12.1 ppg.
UNC jumped out to a 37-25 halftime lead and never looked back on Friday, as the Tar Heels limited Vermont to just 41.2 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes en route to a 19-point win. The Tar Heels shot an underwhelming 41.5 percent from the field during the contest, but did limit Vermont to a meager 39.7 percent from the floor as well, while adding 18- of-24 at the foul line. The Tar Heels also forced 20 turnovers during the meeting, translating into 24 points, and allowed only three Vermont three- pointers. The duo of James Michael McAdoo and Tyler Zeller scored 17 points apiece, with the latter also responsible for a game-high 15 rebounds. Harrison Barnes added 14 points in the wins, while Kendall Marshall logged 11 points and dished out 10 assists.
The Tar Heels currently rank second in the nation in scoring, pouring in a whopping 81.8 ppg. UNC owns a 45.9 percent mark from the field as a team, and boasts three players with a double-digit scoring average. Barnes leads the way (17.3 ppg), while Zeller, the ACC Player of the Year, checks in with a 16.5 ppg tally to go with a 9.5 rpg contribution. Henson rounds out the trio, chipping in 13.8 points to go with a team-leading 10.1 rebounds per contest. However, a wrist injury has kept him sidelined the last couple of games.
This contest features two of the nation's highest-scoring teams, so expect some fireworks here. UNC is the better team and has the added luxury of playing close to home. Although stranger things have happened (especially over the past 48 hours), all signs point to the end of the line in the tournament for the Bluejays.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Carolina 83, Creighton 75
03/18 10:32:33 ET
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