NCAA Tournament Preview: #1 North Carolina vs. #16 Texas Southern

#1 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. #16 Texas Southern Tigers
South Region
March 17th, ESPN

March Preview: North Carolina Tar Heels

North Carolina
27-7, (18-5)
What to Watch:
North Carolina came into the season with high hopes and have put themselves in prime position to turn those dreams into reality. The Tar Heels were selected as a #1 seed in the south region but with what seems to be the toughest road to the championship with both UCLA and Kentucky in their region as well. North Carolina has only 7 losses this season (5 of those to ranked opponents) yet have played strong as of late.
X Factor:
What stands out with North Carolina is their plethora of offensive scoring ability mixed with a strong and consistent defense. The Tar Heels averaged 85 points per game in one of the toughest conferences in college basketball. On the other end, they force nearly 12 turnovers per game, 7 steals per game and 3 blocks per game making them one of the best defenses in the country.

Texas Southern
23-11, (16-2)

What to Watch:
The Tigers struggled at many points throughout the season. The style they play with is hit or miss, as they like to be in control of the game and limit the amount of run outs from the other team. That being said, it is the opposite play style of the Tar Heels which will make this a game of time possession and control of the ball.

X Factor:
Texas Southern struggles to score the ball from just about anywhere on the floor, shooting under 30% from the three point line and only 43% overall. Adding insult to injury, the Tigers average 12 turnovers per game (equivalent to what UNC forces). Lastly, a majority of the minutes played are consumed by just 7 players, will that be enough to keep up with the Tar Heels?

Matchup to Watch
For Texas Southern, a majority of their scoring output is from junior guard Zach Lofton. The Tigers have only played one opponent of the same caliber as UNC, and that is Louisville who beat them 102-71. The fact that the Tigers are very one dimensional whereas the Tar Heels have a starting five and then some of offensive talent is why this game must be slowed down to the pace that Texas Southern is used to playing in order for it to be a contest.

Key Stat
The key stat in this game will be turnovers. Texas Southern is turnover prone whereas North Carolina is a stingy defense and can easily turn defense to offense in a hurry. As stated earlier, the 12 turnovers that Texas Southern averages needs to be down around 6 and they need to own the time of possession in this game to keep it close.

Prediction: North Carolina 91 | Texas Southern 65
North Carolina has too much firepower for the Tigers to compete with. From Pinson to Meeks to Berry to Jackson there is no reason for North Carolina to not pull this one out.

Jacob Lautenschlager
Indiana University | 2020

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