Michigan State vs. North Carolina Best Bet and Prediction for 3/23 March Madness Game

Can the Tar Heels take down the Spartans to advance to the Sweet 16?
March 21, 2024, Charlotte, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Armando Bacot (5)
March 21, 2024, Charlotte, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Armando Bacot (5) / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 1 seed North Carolina Tar Heels will look to advance to the Sweet 16, but first, they must get past the No. 9 seed Michigan State Spartans in the Round of 32 on Saturday.

The Tar Heels opened up the NCAA Tournament against the No. 16 seed Wagner Seahawks (NEC), who defeated Howard, 71-68, on Tuesday night in the First Four. As expected, the Tar Heels had no problems against the Seahawks, defeating Wagner 90-62 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

As for the Spartans, they went up against the No. 8 seed Mississippi State Bulldogs to open up the action on Thursday afternoon. Michigan State crushed Mississippi State, 69-51, thanks to a great second half, where they outscored the Bulldogs by 11 points.

North Carolina has owned Michigan State over the years, going 12-4 in their last 16 meetings. The last time these two teams played each other in the tourney was in 2009 when UNC won the national title 89-72 over Michigan State.

Below, we’ll break down this NCAA tournament matchup and see which team will advance to the Sweet 16. 

Michigan State vs. North Carolina Odds, Spread and Total

Michigan State vs. North Carolina Best Bet and Prediction

The Tar Heels do not have an easy path to the Sweet 16 as this Spartans’ squad is battle-tested and has one of the best head coaches in the country in Tom Izzo. 

Before the tournament tipped off, ONB’s Joseph Summers wrote that Michigan State was one of the teams that could upset North Carolina. A couple of reasons he believed it could happen are the Spartans’ defense and ability to muck the game up.

On Thursday afternoon, we saw the Spartans’ defense stifle the Bulldogs’ offense, holding them to 37 percent shooting from the field and 22.2 percent from beyond the arc. Michigan State also won the battle of the boards (35-29) over Mississippi State.

Heading into the NCAA tournament, the Tar Heels were shooting 35.4 percent from deep, which is good for most teams. North Carolina was dialed in from three-point range in their blowout win over Wagner, shooting 50% on 18 attempts.

First-team All-American RJ Davis shot 4-of-7 from three-point range en route to a game-high 22 points, while Jaelyn Withers dropped 16 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. Armando Bacot also had a strong performance with 20 points and 15 rebounds.

If you love blue-blood basketball and good guard play, this is the game for you. UNC’s perimeter defense won’t have it easy as they’ll try to slow down Tyson Walker, who scored a game-high 19 points, and Jaden Akins, who followed up with 15 points and seven rebounds.

North Carolina has a high-powered offense and can play defense with the best teams in Division 1 (97.9 DRtg, 38th in the NCAA). But Michigan State’s defense is good (98.9 DRtg, 57th in the NCAA), which could lead bettors to take the UNDER in this spot.

It won’t be an easy game for the Tar Heels, who are 7-5 against the spread in non-conference games and 18-14 ATS as the favorite this season. Meanwhile, the Spartans are 8-4 ATS in non-conference games but 3-3-1 ATS as an underdog. That said, we’ll take a chance on the UNDER on the total for this colossal Round of 32 game.

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Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change