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March 23rd Sweet 16 Betting Odds: Ohio vs. North Carolina

by Bovada Sportsbook

D.J. Cooper - March 23rd Sweet 16 Betting Odds: Ohio vs. North Carolina

The most unlikely team in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 is definitely No. 13 seed Ohio Bobcats. The Mid-American Conference champions’ unlikely run would become downright stunning if the Bobcats could upset No. 1 seed North Carolina Tar Heels on Friday night in Midwest Region play in St. Louis. However, UNC is a 10.5-point favorite on Bovada Sportsbook’s NCAA basketball odds, the biggest favorite of the Sweet 16.

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The key story here is the status of Heels point guard Kendall Marshall, the nation’s leader in assists and the most important player on North Carolina – he makes the Heels’ offense, which is second in the nation in scoring, go. Marshall broke his right wrist in the Round of 32 victory over Creighton and had surgery Monday. He already is out of the hard cast and in a removable splint. Coach Roy Williams said he is planning to not have Marshall, but Marshall hasn’t officially been ruled out. Marshall, who is left-handed, has scored in double figures for six straight games and has been the team’s most irreplaceable player at the helm of its fast-paced attack. If Marshall can’t play, seldom-used freshman Stilman White or senior Justin Watts would handle the point guard duties.

Ohio University (29-7) is one of four schools from that state still alive. It upset No. 4 Michigan 65-60 in the tournament opener and then beat No. 12 South Florida 62-56. The Bobcats are the seventh team seeded No. 13 or higher to advance to the regional semifinals, only the second since 1999 and the first since No. 13 Bradley did it in 2006. None of those teams won its next game.

This will be a huge mismatch size-wise. The Bobcats generally have three guards on the floor led by star D.J. Cooper. And Ohio’s two starting forwards are 6-foot-8 Ivo Baltic and 6-7 Jon Smith. Meanwhile, UNC (31-5) starts 7-foot ACC Player of the Year Tyler Zeller, 6-11 two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year John Henson and 6-8 All-American Harrison Barnes. Carolina averages 10.3 more rebounds per game than its opponents and leads the nation in rebounding. Ohio actually gets fewer rebounds than its foes. But the Bobcats are fourth in the nation in steals and sixth in turnover margin.

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d.j. cooper - harrison barnes - ivo baltic - john henson - jon smith - justin watts - kendall marshall - north carolina tar heels - ohio bobcats - roy williams

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