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    NCAA Tournament West Region: No. 16 Wagner vs. No. 1 North Carolina March Madness Preview and Prediction

    A preview and prediction for Wagner vs. North Carolina in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

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    Wagner vs. North Carolina March Madness Preview and Prediction

    In the No. 16 vs. No. 1 matchup in the NCAA Tournament West Region, the Wagner Seahawks face the North Carolina Tar Heels in first-round action.

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    How to Watch Wagner vs. North Carolina

    When: 2:45 pm ET on Thursday, March 21st

    Where: Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina

    Watch: CBS

    Odds for Wagner vs. North Carolina

    (odds current at time of publish)

    Spread: North Carolina -22.5

    Total: 132

    DraftKings Betting Splits | Live College Basketball Odds | Wagner vs. North Carolina Matchup

    West Region No. 16 Wagner Seahawks

    Wagner was the fifth seed in a lousy NEC this year, yet the Seahawks were able to win their tournament and punch their ticket. Wagner did it by winning a bunch of extremely low-scoring games, and the Seahawks will try to continue to grind until their season is over. Wagner is near the bottom of college basketball in offensive efficiency, so keeping up with good offenses isn’t an option. The problem for the Seahawks is that they’re barely in the top 200 when it comes to defense. There are explosive offensive teams with bad defensive reputations that play that end of the floor better than Wagner does. But Wagner was able to get at least one win under its belt in this tournament, as the team earned a 71-68 victory over Howard in the First Four.

    West Region No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels

    The 2022-23 season was a rough one for the Tar Heels. After finishing as the runner-up in Hubert Davis’ first season, the team missed the tournament last year. North Carolina then lost Caleb Love to Arizona in the transfer portal, but the team added some talent in versatile forward Harrison Ingram and sharpshooter Cormac Ryan. Putting those two around Amando Bacot and RJ Davis, two members of the Carolina team that went to the finals, ended up being the magic sauce. This Tar Heels team can really get after it on the defensive end, where they’re top 10 in adjusted defensive rating no matter where you look. And North Carolina has the ability to keep up with anybody offensively. 

    Wagner vs. North Carolina Preview & Prediction

    Wagner will have a quick turnaround to go from Dayton to Charlotte to play what effectively amounts to a home game for the top-ranked Tar Heels. North Carolina will play just two hours and change from their Chapel Hill home and there will be a lot of Carolina Blue in the stands over the course of the weekend.

    North Carolina’s first-round loss to Wisconsin back in 2021 marked the first NCAA Tournament appearance without a win since 1980 for the Tar Heels. I don’t think they’re in danger of that here against Wagner, who is an awesome story for head coach Donald Copeland and has gotten hot at the right time with four wins in four games after not winning more than three games in a row during the regular season.

    The Seahawks have proven to be a solid defensive team, but it may be tough for them to slow down the Tar Heels, who are a top-50 team in adjusted tempo against a Wagner bunch that has played at one of the nation’s slowest paces. If UNC isn’t interested in running up and down the floor, maybe Wagner can cover the big number, but the Tar Heels bring a top-10 adjusted defensive efficiency into this one and they ranked in the top 25 in 2P% defense and top 45 in 3P% defense.

    With the winner of MSU vs. MSU on deck, the Tar Heels will either play the Bulldogs or Spartans, a game that may require a little more effort, so another consideration is whether or not Hubert Davis gets to empty the bench with this one well in hand or if the stars will have to carry a little bit more of a workload.

    Estimated score: North Carolina 79, Wagner 54

    For picks on Wagner/UNC, check out our college basketball expert best bets.

    Adam Burke
    Adam Burke
    Adam Burke is the Managing Editor of VSiN.com and has spent well over a decade in the sports betting content creation space. He has been with VSiN since 2021 and covers a wide range of sports, along with hosting the VSiN Daily Baseball Bets podcast.

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