Alabama vs. North Carolina prediction, odds and key players for NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 (UNC set to cover)

March 23, 2024, Charlotte, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Armando Bacot (5) and North
March 23, 2024, Charlotte, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Armando Bacot (5) and North / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama and North Carolina meet in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night in a battle of the No. 1 seed in the West Region against the No. 4 seed.

The Tar Heels have been elite on both sides of the ball this season, paced by elite guard play in RJ Davis and a talented big man around the rim in Armando Bacot. However, the team will face one of the most efficient offenses in the entire country in Alabama, which has a star guard in Mark Sears and a ton of three-point prowess. 

The Crimson Tide’s offense offsets a struggling defense, will North Carolina be able to take advantage? 

Here’s our betting preview for Thursday’s Sweet 16 tilt:

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Alabama vs. North Carolina Odds, Spread and Total

North Carolina vs. Alabama Betting Trends

  • Alabama is 2-5-1 against the spread (ATS) as an underdog this season
  • North Carolina is 21-15 ATS this season
  • Alabama has gone OVER in 25 of 34 games this season
  • Alabama has gone OVER in seven of eight games as an underdog this season

Alabama vs. North Carolina How to Watch

  • Date: Thursday, March 28th
  • Game Time: 9:39 PM EST
  • Venue: Arena
  • How to Watch (TV): CBS
  • Alabama Record: 23-11
  • North Carolina Record: 29-7

Alabama vs. North Carolina Key Players to Watch


Mark Sears: In a defensive struggle, Sears shined yet again, scoring 26 of the Crimson Tide’s 72 points, making five threes against Grand Canyon. Alabama’s offense goes as he goes, a 50% shooter from the field and 43% from beyond the arc as the team regularly scores more than 100 points. Can Sears and the Crimson Tide play in a more free-flowing game come next weekend?

North Carolina

RJ Davis: The Tar Heels started slowly against Michigan State in the Round of 32, but Davis helped navigate the Spartans en route to a double-digit victory, scoring 20 points in the process. Davis has been stellar all season, averaging 21 points per game with more than three assists, but will also be tasked with slowing down Alabama’s Sears. Can the senior guard out-play Sears? 

Alabama vs. North Carolina Prediction and Pick

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. 

PICK: North Carolina -4

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

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