North Carolina vs. Auburn-
UNC comes in having rolled Washington while Auburn comes in having rolled Kansas. The Tigers look to continue their assault on blue bloods. Carolina possesses the 8th most efficient offense and 11th most efficient defense. Auburn is 6th and 45th. Can Auburn get enough stops?
Auburn is 225th in effective fg% defense. That’s bad. They force a lot of turnovers but UNC is pretty good at not turning it over. Auburn is going to need to turn it over on defense. If they don’t, UNC will feast on offense. Auburn is a bad defensive rebounding team. In fact, they’re amongst the worst in the nation. They foul a ton, too. Given UNC’s offensive rebounding prowess, Auburn is a great matchup for them.
On the other side of the ball, UNC’s defense doesn’t do anything spectacular save rebounding. That said, they are solid across the board without any weakness except fouling. Auburn doesn’t typically get to the foul line, though. One thing they do well and what gives them a chance is shoot 3’s and they shoot and make a lot. Carolina gives up a lot, so it’s possible.
If Auburn is making 3’s, they can win. If they’re not falling, it’ll be a rout.
The Pick: North Carolina 81 Auburn 74
Kentucky vs. Houston-
This has a chance to be another great Sweet 16 game. Kentucky is 7th in KenPom with the 11th best offesne and 8th best defense. Houston checks in at 20 and 12, respectively. Both teams play at about the same tempo. Giddy up.
Houston has the best effective fg% defense. They have the best 3-pt defense and 5th best 2-pt defense. They do foul quite a bit. Kentucky is 72nd in effective fg% offense. They’re one of the best offensive rebounding teams but PJ Washington was a big reason for that. Does he play and is he effective. Kentucky is aggressive on offense and collects a lot of fouls on their opponents. I think Houston’s defense is a huge advantage in this matchup but Kentucky can alleviate that by getting to the line.
Kentucky’s defense is quite good, too. The only thing they don’t do well is turn opponents over. Houston is solid on offense. They don’t do anything great except rebounding. Kentucky matches them with their defensive rebounding. But, part of that includes PJ Washington. If he gives them even 20 good minutes, it’ll be big. If he’s ineffective, I think Houston wins.
The Pick: Houston 66 Kentucky 65