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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 7:00 AM

You saw what the selection committee was thinking when they put together North Carolina and Harvard for a prime time tip-off on night one of the full 2015 Dance card. One of the most storied programs in college history gets to face a Cinderella from a big media market. And, there’s some nice Carolina-Duke rivalry stuff underlying the coaching battle. On a day destined to see a lot of boring blowouts and non-entity yawners…THIS was the game that would generate great ratings!

It might…but it could also be the game where everyone realizes this year’s Harvard squad isn’t much like last year’s team that snuck into the Sweet 16.

*Harvard really shouldn’t be here, needing a miraculous Yale loss to qualify

*Given a second chance, Harvard almost blew their shot AGAIN

*Harvard ranks #77 in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings this year, after finishing #32 last year

*Harvard was a poor 9-14 against the spread this season, meaning…OVERRATED

This is only a great matchup if you haven’t been paying attention to college basketball the past month! Now, it could still turn out to be a great matchup on the hardwood if North Carolina plays sloppy and Harvard shoots lights out. Hey, it’s the Big Dance…and #13 seeds beat #4 seeds all the time. Handicappers will have to determine if Harvard is deserving of that seed, and truly capable of overcoming their athletic disadvantage. Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about this game you’ll be watching on TV.


Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

Harvard: 102.0 per 100 possessions (#72 in the nation)

N. Carolina: 115.2 per 100 possessions (#12 in the nation)

Because the media hasn’t been paying much attention to Harvard, the Crimson are seen as a smart, efficient team that patiently works for good shots. They are patient, but they’re not very efficient this year. That’s not a Dance caliber offense likely to embarrass you with treys. They will occasionally hit a bunch of treys. North Carolina aggressively attacks the basket to earn easy buckets and free throws. They rank in the top dozen nationally in efficiency even though they don’t use treys except as an after-thought.


Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

Harvard: 94.6 per 100 possessions (#35 in the nation)

N. Carolina: 95.1 per 100 possessions (#44 in the nation)

Things are more even here…though you have to be concerned that Pomeroy’s methodology understates the troubles that less-athletic mid-majors have defending the basket when they step up in class. History has shown that to be an issue. In terms of making defensive plays (blocks, steals, etc..), Carolina probably has the better defense. At best for Harvard, it’s a wash here after the big disadvantage on offense.


Pace Ranking

Harvard: #317

N. Carolina: #10

One of the biggest extremes we’ll likely see in the whole postseason. Harvard will try to slow things down to take Carolina out of its rhythm. The Heels will blow and go in hopes of getting dunks and drawing fouls. During the regular season, it’s the home team that typically imposes its will in tempo. In tournaments, it’s usually the superior team unless that superior team is poorly coached. Carolina has seen slow ball with Virginia and others this season, so they won’t be overly frustrated unless they force things and commit turnovers.


Against the Spread

Harvard: 9-14 (6-12 Under)

N. Carolina: 19-15-1 (19-13-1 Over)

We included the Over/Under trends because they line up with the notes on pace. Harvard is slower than the market realized, and has played 67% unders in lined action. Carolina is just below 60% to the Over because the market has underestimated their pace. In terms of the basic team side lines…Harvard has been overrated, Carolina underrated.


Early Line: North Carolina by 10.5, total of 133

And, sharps felt that way out of the gate as an opening line of North Carolina -9 has been bet higher. The computer guys aren’t thinking this is going to be must-see TV. Sharps are looking for a double digit Carolina win…though Harvard money may start hitting the market if the game goes to +11.

JIM HURLEY won’t force any plays just because they’re getting the best TV window. He and his full team of experts will leave no stone unturned in tracking down BEST BETS in both daytime and evening action. You can purchase the final word for Thursday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 before the early games tip off. You’ve been waiting all year for the first big day of Dance action to begin. IT’S HERE!

Back with you tomorrow for another prime time preview. Here’s what’s coming up the next few days in the NOTEBOOK…

Friday: Oklahoma State vs. Oregon in the most exciting evening matchup

Saturday: Best of the later tips in the Round of 32, which could be (barring upsets) Notre Dame vs. the Texas/Butler survivor, Villanova vs. NC State, Arizona vs. Ohio State, or North Carolina vs. Arkansas if the seeds hold in Jacksonville.

Sunday: Best of the later tips in Day Two of the Round of 32, which could be Virginia vs. Michigan State, Kansas vs. Wichita State, or Northern Iowa vs. Louisville.

The full NETWORK team is ready. Our sources, scouts, statheads, computer programmers, trend historians, and Wise Guy sources have chimed in with their critical information. Now IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO WIN with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!


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