Saint Peter's Peacocks vs. North Carolina Tar Heels: NCAA Tournament Elite 8 Prediction & Game Preview - 3/27/2022

by Chuck Sommers

NCAA Tournament: Elite 8, East Region

Time: 5:05 p.m. ET
Venue: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Where to watch: CBS

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: North Carolina -8
BetMGM: NL
Caesars: North Carolina -8.5

Season record
No. 15 Saint Peter's: 22-11
No. 8 North Carolina: 27-9

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Saint Peter's - North Carolina preview and analysis


Forget National Peacock Day. This is the Year of the Peacock. We've accepted such a thing to happen. If the Year of the Peacock isn't an official thing, we need to make it so. The Saint Peter's Peacocks have earned such a distinction and are now one win away from the Final Four.

The Peacocks became the first 15 seed in the history of the NCAA Tournament to make the Elite Eight after defeating the Purdue Boilermakers 67-64 on Friday night. It still doesn't seem real that it happened. And now Saint Peter's is on the cusp of the Final Four, going against the North Carolina Tar Heels on Sunday in Philadelphia.

The Peacocks' 3-point victory over Purdue is still absurdly shocking. I don't think there's any way we can actually sit here and be nothing but awe-inspired of what has transpired with this Saint Peter's group. Daryl Banks III had 14 points, and Clarence Rupert had 11 to lead the starters, but it was the Peacocks' defense on Purdue that put them one win from the ultimate banner-raising, net-cutting moment.

Purdue shot 42 percent from the floor and was 5 of 21 from 3-point range.

''We're making history,'' guard Doug Edert said, who had 10 points and has turned into the media darling of this tournament run. ''We're looking forward to making more history.''

Are we really going to sit here and act like this won't be happening? I was confident enough that Saint Peter's would, at the very least, cover that 12.5-point spread and I felt good enough that it would translate well. But as you can see from our trends below, Saint Peter's has done more than we could ever imagine. And they're getting 8 points in some facets against North Carolina, who is wrapped in its own storyline should the Tar Heels win.

Because of course, as fate would have it, we are on a collision course for a potential North Carolina-Duke Final Four, which would completely just destroy the world of college basketball as we know it. It would only seem fitting for the finale of Coach K that one more Duke-UNC matchup would come to fruition.

But leading up to that, the Tar Heels have made their own surprising run in the tournament, getting to the Elite Eight after knocking off Baylor and UCLA to get to this point. And if it weren't for the fact that Caleb Love turned into a human flamethrower the other night, this Cinderella run for the Heels. No one expected this 8 seed to be as good as they've been.

''I never lose my confidence level,'' Love said. ''Coach Davis and all my teammates always tell me that. I feel like that's the best part of my game, not to lose my confidence.''

Prediction


I wouldn't want to tell you that the moneyline is a sure bet. I would like to tell you that you should always trust the Cinderella. But you know what? I would also like to see this story going, and giving Duke a run for its money in the Final Four. Give me the Peacocks. Why not? There's literally nothing left to lose. Saint Peter's by 5

Betting trends


Saint Peter's is 23-9 ATS this season.

Saint Peter's is 11-3 ATS as an underdog this season.

Saint Peter's is 19-6 ATS the last three seasons as a road underdog or pick.

North Carolina is 29-37 ATS as a favorite the last three seasons.

Projected starting lineup


Saint Peter's:
PG: Matthew Lee
SG: Daryl Banks III
SF: Hassan Drame
PF: Clarence Rupert
C: K.C. Ndefo

North Carolina:
PG: R.J. Davis
SG: Caleb Love
SF: Leaky Black
PF: Brady Manek
C: Armando Bacot

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Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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