[5:45 PM] #7 North Carolina v. #6 Kentucky

Who will WIN this matchup?

#7 North Carolina Tar Heels (10-1)

#6 Kentucky Wildcats (9-1)


The line for this game is Kentucky by 1 point.

Two of the most storied college basketball programs who are also on the short list of favorites to win the 2017 NCAA Tournament meet Saturday when No. 6 North Carolina and No. 7 Kentucky tangle in Las Vegas. North Carolina junior Joel Berry II (14.8 points, 4.7 assists) could return to the lineup after missing the last two games with an ankle injury, setting up a showdown between elite point guards with Kentucky freshman De’Aaron Fox (15.1 points, 6.9 assists).

Junior forward Justin Jackson averages a team-most 15.5 points despite scoring only seven and shooting 3-for-15 from the field – 0-for-6 from 3-point range – against Tennessee. Kennedy Meeks (12.5 points), a 6-10 senior forward, grabs a club-best 9.3 rebounds with 40 of his 102 boards coming on the offensive end. Senior forward Isaiah Hicks (12.7 points) is the Tar Heels’ other double-figure scorer while 6-10 freshman forward Tony Bradley (9.3 points, 6.5 rebounds) is an even bigger force on the offensive glass with 41 of his 71 rebounds coming at that end.

Freshman guard Malik Monk (team-high 19.4 points) recorded at least 20 in five of his last six games while shooting 50.5 percent from the field during that stretch. Freshmen forwards Bam Adebayo (12.6 points, club-best 8.0 rebounds) and Wenyen Gabriel (6.7, 5.8) must have strong games on the boards to help neutralize North Carolina’s strong rebounding presence. Sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe (16.6 points) shoots 53.8 percent from the field while Fox boasts 69 assists against 24 turnovers and leads the Wildcats with 17 steals.

The Tar Heels trailed 44-36 against Tennessee – the most points they gave up in a half this season.

Kentucky (eight) and North Carolina (five) are two of five teams to win at least five NCAA Tournaments, joining UCLA (11), Duke (five) and Indiana (five).

The Tar Heels lead the series 23-14 with Kentucky prevailing 84-70 in the last meeting Dec. 13, 2014. No Wildcats remain on the roster from that game.


StreakSmarts Pick: #7 North Carolina Tar Heels

Confidence: 5/10

StreakSmarter Pick