It’s been more than a decade since a school repeated as men’s basketball national champions (Florida in 2006 and ’07), but North Carolina will look to change that after cutting down the nets in Glendale last year. Their title defense begins in nearby Charlotte on Friday afternoon, as the Tar Heels take on Atlantic Sun champs Lipscomb in a 2 vs. 15 West region matchup.
The game is scheduled to start around 2:45 p.m. ET (about 25 minutes after the conclusion of Texas A&M vs Providence, which starts at 12:15 p.m. ET) and will be broadcast nationally on CBS. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch the game live on your computer, phone or streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
Amazon Prime: If you have Amazon Prime or want to start a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, you can watch a live stream of your local CBS channel via the CBS All-Access Amazon Channel, which comes with a 7-day free trial. Once you’re signed up for both Amazon Prime and the CBS channel, you can watch CBS live on your computer via the Amazon website, or on your phone, tablet or other streaming device via the the Amazon Video app.
CBS All Access: This service lets you watch a live stream of your local CBS channel (most markets included), as well as all of CBS’ on-demand library. It’s ultimately the same as the above option, only you’re watching through CBS’ digital platform rather than Amazon’s. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial, and then you can watch on your computer via the CBS website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the CBS app.
Hulu With Live TV: If you want an extensive Netflix-like on-demand streaming library in addition to live TV, Hulu now also offers a bundle of live channels, including CBS (live in select markets). You can sign up for “Hulu with Live TV” right here, and you can then watch a live stream of CBS on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
FuboTV: CBS (live in select markets) is included in the “Fubo Premier” channel package. It comes with a free 7-day trial, and you can watch on your computer via the FuboTV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the FuboTV app
Note: You can also watch any tournament game on your computer via the March Madness Live website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the March Madness Live app. To watch these streams, you’ll have a free preview before needing to sign in to a TV provider to keep watching, but if you don’t have cable, you can do this by logging in with your Hulu credentials.
It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster season for the Tar Heels, who lost Justin Jackson, Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks and Nate Britt from last year’s title-winning squad. But while their record shows 10 losses, that doesn’t quite tell the entire story, as the Heels faced the most difficult schedule in the country and had to play an absurd 22 Quadrant 1 games, which was five more than any other team in the nation. That unsurprisingly led to a handful of defeats, but the Heels still came away from that murderer’s row schedule with 25 victories, a trip to the ACC tournament final and a national-best 14 Quad 1 wins.
In other words, this team is battle tested.
They’re also really good. Joel Berry and Luke Maye have been the two stars for much of the year, but now that Theo Pinson has taken his game to a new level (averaging 14.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.7 steals over his last 10 games), that’s a dangerous trio for defenses to deal with. The Heels are fifth in the nation in offensive efficiency, they dominate the offensive glass, they can score from inside or out, and the defense raised its game for most of the ACC tournament.
Lipscomb presents an intriguing opening-round test for the Heels. One of the few teams that play at a faster pace than North Carolina, the Bisons average 80.9 points per game, led by junior guard Garrison Matthews (22.1 per game) and junior forward Rob Marberry (16.0). They swept a home-and-away series against a solid Belmont squad, and they certainly won’t be scared of the Tar Heels after playing against Alabama, Texas, Tennessee and Purdue during the regular season.
Still, the Heels are 19.5-point favorites, and unless we get a little Madness, they’ll be on to the Round of 32 for the eighth straight year.