2019 NCAA Tournament bracket: North Carolina vs. Iona odds, picks, predictions from model on 11-5 run

The North Carolina Tar Heels' quest to win the national championship begins on Friday when they face the Iona Gaels in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament. North Carolina (27-6), the top seed in the Midwest Region of the NCAA bracket, has won 15 of its last 17 games, with its only losses coming against fellow 1-seeds Virginia and Duke. Iona (17-15), the 16-seed, has won 10 straight games, including three consecutive in the MAAC Tournament to earn the conference's automatic bid. Tipoff is scheduled for 9:20 p.m. ET on Friday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. The Heels are favored by 22.5 in the latest North Carolina vs. Iona odds, while the over-under for total points scored is 166.5. Before making any UNC vs. Iona picks of your own, look at the 2019 NCAA Tournament predictions from the SportsLine Projection Model.

This model, which simulates every game 10,000 times, has raked in the winnings for those following its picks. Over the past two years, the SportsLine Projection Model has returned over $4,000 to $100 players on its top-rated college basketball picks. It also entered the postseason on a strong 11-5 run on all top-rated college basketball picks. Anyone who has followed it is way up.

Now the model has honed in on North Carolina vs. Iona. We can tell you it is going under, and it also is backing one side of the spread in well over 50 percent of simulations. That one is only available at SportsLine.

The model has factored in that the Heels are an elite rebounding team. North Carolina leads the country in rebounds per game (43.6) and ranks second in rebounding margin (9.7). Meanwhile, Iona is getting out-rebounded by 2.1 per game, which is in the bottom 25 percent of all Division I teams.

Freshman guard Coby White has improved across the board in the last 17 games for UNC. Since Jan. 14, he has upped his scoring (18.2 points per game from 14.0), shooting (43.7 percent from 41.9), 3-point shooting (37.2 percent from 34.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.73 from 1.30).

But just because North Carolina dominates this game on paper does not guarantee the Heels will cover the North Carolina vs. Iona spread against the Gaels.

Iona, which started the year 2-9, is playing its best ball of the season. During its 10-game winning streak, the team is shooting 44.9 percent from the field and 38.1 percent on 3-pointers. In the MAAC Tournament championship game, the Gaels shot 46.2 percent, including 52.9 in the second half.

Senior point guard Rickey McGill, the MAAC Tournament MVP, directs Iona's balanced, fast-paced offense. Four players, led by E.J. Crawford, average at least 12.4 points, and five players have made at least 34 treys this season.

So who wins Iona vs. North Carolina? And which side of the spread can you bank on well over 50 percent of the time? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Iona vs. UNC spread to jump on, all from the advanced model that's up more than $4,000 on top-rated college basketball picks the past two seasons.

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