Alabama vs. North Carolina Final Score Prediction for NCAA Tournament Sweet 16

Attempting to predict the exact final score for this week's Sweet 16 matchup in the NCAA Tournament between Alabama and UNC.

Mar 23, 2024; Charlotte, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Cormac Ryan (3) against Michigan
Mar 23, 2024; Charlotte, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Cormac Ryan (3) against Michigan / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The UNC Tar Heels entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed, but not many people weren't giving them much of a chance compared to the other No. 1 seeds. In fact, No. 2 Arizona had (and still has) better odds to come out of the West Region.

UNC has silenced the haters through the first two rounds, trouncing No. 16 Wagner, 90-62, in the Round of 64 and then comfortably beating No. 9 Michigan State in the Round of 32. Now, the Tar Heels have their toughest test of the tournament in the Sweet 16 when they take on No. 4 Alabama.

Alabama has also had little trouble in the tournament so far, beating No. 13 Charleston and No. 12 Grand Canyon by double-digit points each.

Reed Wallach has already given you his betting preview for the game, including breaking down why he's laying the points with UNC as a 4-point favorite. In this article, we're going to take a look at his pick, but then I'm going to take it a step further and try to predict the exact final score.

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Alabama vs. UNC odds, spread, and total

Alabama vs. UNC expert prediction

Reed Wallach broke down his best bet for this game in his betting preview earlier this week. Here's why he's backing UNC:

Alabama’s suspect defense is ripe to be exposed against the Tar Heels. The Crimson Tide are outside the top 100 in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency and are a poor matchup against North Carolina’s physical and rim-running offense.

The Tar Heels are an elite offensive rebounding team with positional size all over that does a good job of getting to the free throw line. The two-man game of Davis and Armando Bacot helped the Tar Heels get efficient looks from all over the floor, but also rank inside the top 80 nationally in both offensive rebounding rate and free throw rate.

Meanwhile, Alabama is outside the top 200 in defensive rebounding rate and also has an opponent free throw rate outside the top 300 nationally. The Crimson Tide’s inability to keep teams off the free throw line will have the Tar Heels generating easy buckets all game.

Alabama’s offense is elite, but North Carolina does a fine job of defending the three-point line and funneling teams inside to the likes of Bacot. Further, Alabama will struggle to generate second chances against UNC’s top 10 defensive rebounding rate.

I believe UNC can win the free throw battle and also find more second chances to out-pace the Crimson Tide and advance.

Alabama vs. UNC final score prediction

I agree with Reed and will be backing the points with UNC. Alabama's defense has been bad all season and now the Crimson Tide take on a Tar Heels' team that can match them offensively, but will be outmached defensively.

So, the next question to answer is what we're going to do with the total. The total is a high one, set at 173.5. Alabama soared over the total in its first game, with 205 total points scored in its game against Charleston. The total stayed under in its second game with just 133 points scored in the Crimson Tide's game against Grand Canyon.

I think we're going to see another UNDER game for Alabama. The Tar Heels' defense is too good for this total to go OVER. They rank 21st in the country in defensive efficiency and they allow just 70.0 points per game, which ranks 98th in college basketball.

Most importantly, UNC ranks high in a stat called "Opponent Floor%", which measures the percentage of an opponent's possessions that result in at least one point being scored. The Tar Heels rank 18th in that metric, allowing at least one point in only 44.7% of their opponent's possessions.

So, we're taking UNC to cover and the total to go UNDER.

Final score prediction: Alabama 78, UNC 86

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.