The No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels have a 3-2 spread record in their five games of Atlantic Coast Conference play, with the ‘under’ also cashing at 3-2.  Roy Williams’ troops take their floor at Dean Smith Center as heavy ‘chalk’ in Sunday’s matchup against the Yellow Jackets.
Sportsbooks opened North Carolina as a 21.5-point favorite in the NCAA basketball odds, while first setting the total at 143.5.  Both the spread and total remained unchanged after initial wagers, with each team having no early injuries to report.

Zeller, Tar Heels trounce N.C. State

North Carolina notched a 74-55 victory as 13-point home chalk in Thursday’s win against the North Carolina State Wolfpack.  The Tar Heels held N.C. State to 36.8 percent field shooting, while sizably outrebounding their visitors, 48-21.

Roy WilliamsTar Heels forward Tyler Zeller logged team-highs of 21 points and 17 boards, finishing with his fourth straight double-double.  Zeller’s mates Kendall Marshall and John Henson recorded 11 assists and five blocks, respectively, while uniting for 16 points.

The lopsided affair’s combined 129 points plunged under the total of 159, giving a cashed ticket to my followers from that night.  Both squads struggled from the charity stripe, uniting to hit 11-of-22 free throws.

Yellow Jackets stung at home

Georgia Tech’s latest defeat came in Tuesday’s 64-49 loss as a 1.5-point home dog against the Miami Hurricanes.  The Yellow Jackets were held to 35.7 percent field shooting, while allowing Miami to drain 9-of-17 buckets from three-point land.

Yellow Jackets guard Glen Rice notched nine rebounds and five assists, while finishing with 13 points.  Georgia Tech’s bench scoring was led by freshman Julian Royal, who hit 5-of-7 buckets from the field en route to logging 11 points.

The contest’s combined 113 points dipped below the ‘total’ of 130.5, bringing the ‘under’ to 3-1 in the Yellow Jackets’ last four games.  Georgia Tech edged out the Hurricanes in boards, 33-27, while Rice and Co. connected a sparse 5-for-11 at the foul line.

Back the ‘under’ in Chapel Hill

Sunday’s tip is scheduled for 6 p.m. (ET), with ESPNU providing the national television coverage.

This sports betting handicapper is backing the under, looking for the defense of both squads to keep points at a premium.  North Carolina has allowed 58.6 PPG in its last seven home games, while Georgia Tech has given up 66 PPG in its last five contests and held foes to 36.2 percent shooting away from home.

North Carolina’s John Henson (10.1 RPG) and Tyler Zeller (9.7 RPG) make up the Atlantic Coast Conference’s top pair of rebounders, with Henson also leading the conference in blocks (3.3 BPG).  Georgia Tech’s Daniel Miller is not far behind Henson in blocks (2.5 BPG), while the Yellow Jackets have logged 25.3 defensive RPG, ranking fourth among the ACC’s 12 squads.

The under is 4-0 in the last four meetings between these rivals, including a cashed ticket for underbackers in last January’s 78-58 win for Georgia Tech as a six-point home dog.  UNC was held to 27.6 percent field shooting, including a 2-for-12 night beyond the arc, with both squads uniting for 72 boards.

While the Tar Heels come in fueled with some revenge, Zeller and Co. have a road game looming at Wake Forest just two nights from now.  UNC had a similar spot in last season’s schedule, with a 74-69 home win against Charleston ducking under the ‘total’ of 155.5 prior to heading west on one day of rest against the Illinois Fighting Illini.

Look for the Tar Heels to try putting this contest away quickly, while Georgia Tech’s low-octane attack keeps the matchup’s tempo off the scoreboard.  The scenario sets up for ‘under’ tickets to cash thanks to “garbage time” getting an early start in the second half.