There is nothing like looking at the field of the 2021 NCAA Tournament and sitting down to fill in your picture. You take a look at the regions, find out which team you think will advance, and then go to town to check and complete all the potential winners.
Every year the head scratchers turn out to be the 9-8 matchups; and 2021 is no different. While few choose 8 or 9 seeds to delve into their parentheses, as they almost always play the No. 1 seed in the next round, those selections can prove crucial. And if you end up picking the right teams in those matchups, and you pick one of those squads to beat the No. 1 seed correctly, it gives you key differentiation in the high-risk pool groups.
This year, the most intriguing 9-8 matchup has to be between Wisconsin and UNC. Just a few weeks ago, the idea for the Tar Heels was met with mocking stares, but they have done so after a good season finale. Meanwhile, the Badgers head in the opposite direction, having battled elite members of the Charged Big Ten later in the year.
Despite their divergent trajectories, Wisconsin (17-12, 10-10 Big Ten) and UNC (18-10, 10-6 ACC) have very similar records. Of course, the Big Ten are much stronger than the ACC, but you can never count on a blue-blooded team like UNC, especially with Roy Williams in charge as their head coach.
With that, here’s everything you need to know about the Wisconsin-UNC showdown, including rankings, key players, season breakdowns, and more:
EXPERT SUPPORT PICTURES:
DeCourcy (Gonzaga) | Bender (Illinois) | Fagan (Gonzaga) | Lutovsky (Baylor)
UNC vs. WSiconsin odds
Wisconsin-UNC is scheduled to be the fourteenth overall game played in March Madness, and the tenth in the official first round of the NCAA Tournament. According to FanDuel sports betting, UNC is slightly favored in the contest. Below are the details of your game, including betting odds, time, TV, and venue.
- Odd: UNC (-1.5)
- Date: Friday March 19
- Time: 7:10 pm ET
- TELEVISION: CBS
- Sand: Mackey Arena
Wisconsin (17-12, 10-10 Big Ten)
Historically, Wisconsin has been one of the Big Ten basketball powerhouses. They have qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 20 of the last 21 seasons and made the Final Four in back-to-back seasons, 2014 and 2015, and finished as runners-up to Duke during the ’15 season. The team passed smoothly from Bo Ryan, who coached the team for 15 years but retired during the 2015-16 season, to Greg Gard and Gard has led them to the Sweet 16 twice in ’16 and ’17.
During the 2020-21 season, the Badgers started well, posting a 10-2 record in their first 12 games. However, they failed down the stretch, losing nine of their last 14 against a tough Big Ten schedule. During their losing streak, they lost to ranked teams nine times, including Iowa (three times), Michigan (two), Illinois (twice), Ohio State and Purdue.
The Badgers’ struggles can certainly be attributed to an extremely difficult schedule, and they defeated three ranked teams this year, including Louisville, Michigan State and Minnesota. They also defeated teams that go to tournaments, including Maryland, 10-seeded, Rutgers 10, Loyola Chicago, 8-seeded, and the aforementioned Michigan State, who are playing in the Top Four.
- NET Ranking: 26
- KenPom Classification: 10
- Quad register 1: 5-10
- Quad register 2: 5-2
- Quad register 3: 4-0
- Quad register 4: 3-0
- Offensive efficiency ranking: 32nd
- Defensive efficiency: 13
Key players. Main players
D’Mitrik Trice (6-0, 184-pound red jersey senior guard)
13.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.0 apg
Micah Potter (6-10, 248-pound red jersey senior forward)
12.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.2 apg
Brad Davison (6-4 senior guard, 202 pounds)
9.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.3 apg
Aleem Ford (6-8-pound, 217-pound red jersey senior forward)
8.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.1 apg
Nate Reuvers (6-11 senior forward, 235 pounds)
8.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 0.7 apg
BREAKDOWN OF REGIONS:
WEST | EAST | SOUTH | MIDWEST
North Carolina (18-8, 10-6 ACC)
For a long time, it seemed like UNC would be out looking for a general offer, but they had a hot streak in their last six games to fight their way into the tournament. In their last six games, they went 4-2 with their two losses totaling five points. They nearly made it to the ACC Championship Game as the No. 6 seed in the tournament.
Because of that and their late-season wins over 11th-ranked Florida State and 23rd-ranked Virginia Tech, it’s no surprise to see the Tar Heels make it to the tournament. They have a slightly lower seed than Sporting News’ Bill Bender projected, but that shouldn’t matter in the first round for what seems like an even game in terms of talent.
- NET Ranking: 32
- KenPom Classification: 28
- Quad register 1: 3-9
- Quad register 2: 8-0
- Quad register 3: 4-1
- Quad register 4: 3-1
- Offensive efficiency ranking: 53rd
- Defensive efficiency: fifteen
Key players. Main players
Armando Bacot (6-10 sophomore forward, 240 pounds)
12.2 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 0.8 apg
Caleb Love (6-4 freshman guard, 195 pounds)
10.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.6 apg
Garrison Brooks (senior forward 6-10)
10.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.4 apg
Day’Ron Sharpe (6-11, 265-pound freshman forward)
9.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.5 apg
RJ Davis (6-0, 160-pound freshman guard)
8.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.9 apg
SUPPORT TIPS: KenPom | Play the odds | Idiots guide
UNC vs. Wisconsin Prediction
This Wisconsin-UNC showdown appears to be a low scoring contest. Both teams rank in the top 15 in the NCAA for defensive efficiency. While neither offense is bad, this 9-8 matchup looks like it’s going to be more of a routine competition than anything else.
However, if the Badgers can start early from the deep, they will have a chance to build an advantage that UNC might have trouble climbing. The Badgers rank 72nd in the NCAA with a 3-point percentage of 35.94, while the UNC’s mark of 31.65 percent from deep ranks a measly 270th. Wisconsin has four regular rotation players shooting 37.5 percent from behind the arc in Jonathan Davis, D’Mitrik Trice, Brad Davison and Micah Potter, so if they can get into a three-point shootout, the Badgers will be well positioned. for victory.
That said, it has never been easy to beat the Tar Heels in the opening round games of the NCAA Tournament. UNC is 15-0 in the first round with coach Roy Williams, and every team he has coached since his Kansas days has been perfect in the first round. Williams will surely have a great game plan ready to go out and attack Wisconsin. That may mean heavily guarding the perimeter and using the length of guys like Armando Bacot, Garrison Brooks and Day’Ron Sharpe for both Wisconsin shooters on and off.
It’s also worth noting that UNC ranks third in the NCAA in rebounds per game, so their size and physique allow them to dominate the cup against a Wisconsin team that ranks 256th in total rebounds per game. Given the strength and length of this UNC team, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Williams keep his pristine first-round record intact unless Wisconsin comes red hot.
8v9 matchup history in the NCAA Tournament
In truth, throughout the history of the NCAA Tournament, the 9th and 8th seeded matchup has been relatively even. It’s the biggest coin flip on any bracket, and it’s the only one of the typical first-round matchups in which the underdog has an advantage over the most-seeded team. No. 9 seeds have a slight 72-68 lead.
If you’re looking at recent history, the No. 8 seed has had a slight edge of late. They have posted a 24-20 record in the last 11 NCAA tournaments, but it’s worth noting that the No. 9 seeds won every matchup 9-8 last year.
So what does this mean? This game really is a coin toss and it’s one the trends may not tell us much about. As such, it is more important to look at the matchup in this case, and it would appear that UNC has a slight advantage in this matchup.
Below is a breakdown of the victories that 9 seeds have enjoyed over 8 seeds in the last 10 tournaments:
|2019||UCF 73, VCU 58|
|Baylor 78, Syracuse 69|
|Oklahoma 95, Ole Miss 72|
|Washington 78, Utah 61|
|2018||Alabama 86, Virginia Tech 83|
|Kansas State 69, Creighton 59|
|State of Florida 67, Missouri 54|
|2017||Michigan State 78, Miami 58|
|2016||Butler 71, Texas Tech 61|
|Providence 70, USC 69|
|Uconn 74, Colorado 67|
|2014||Pittsburgh 77, Colorado 48|
|2013||Temple 76, State of North Carolina 72|
|Wichita State 73, Pittsburgh 55|
|2012||St. Louis 61, Memphis 54|
|2011||Illinois 73, UNLV 62|
|2010||Wake Forest 81, Texas 80|
|Northern Iowa 69, UNLV 66|
|2009||Siena 74, Ohio State 72|
|Texas A&M 79, BYU 66|
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.