ACC Tournament Quarterfinals: Top Predictions And Free Picks

Kevin Stott

Thursday, March 10, 2016 3:45 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 10, 2016 3:45 PM UTC

Let’s isolate two games from the day and look at the L10 meetings between the two schools, any Trends and try to come up with a couple decent NCAA basketball picks.

North Carolina vs. Pittsburgh
Brice Johnson and #1 seed North Carolina (25-6, 14-4 ACC) meets #8 seed Pittsburgh (21-10, 10-9 ACC) in the first of four ACC Tournament Quarterfinals Round games at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC on Thursday. The winner of this game will move on to the Semifinals in Friday night’s first game game (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT). NCAA basketball odds makers have opened up the Tar Heels as 7½-point (5Dimes) favorites with the Total (Points) for this game opening up at 148½ ( British bookmaker Ladbrokes had #1-seed North Carolina at +225 odds to win the ACC Tournament with the Panthers at 20/1 odds, but with the Tourney going on, the odds have been taken down. The highest odds on the screen to win the NCAA National Championship has North Carolina at 10/1 (Paddy Power) and Pittsburgh at 200/1 (William Hill).


Previous Meetings This Season, Series Trends, Injuries, Players to Watch, Picks 
These teams met just once this past Regular Season with North Carolina throttling Pittsburgh, 85-64 on Feb. 14 on Tobacco Road in Chapel Hill (NC -10½, 152½, Under) as Brice Johnson (19 points, 7 rebounds) and the host Tar Heels played one of their best games of the season, shooting 59.3% from the Floor (32-54), scoring 24 points off Pittsburgh TOs, having 26 assists on 32 baskets and scoring 16 points on the fast-break. Besides Johnson, Tar Heel teammates Marcus Paige (15 points), Justin Jackson (14 points), Joel Berry II (13 points) and Isaiah Hicks (10 points) were all in double-digits in a game in which North Carolina ran out to a 42-29 Halftime lead, and then outscored the Panthers 43-35 in the 2nd Half to earn the comfortable victory and cover ATS. Important. James Robinson (15 points) and Michael Young (15 points) were the only two Pittsburgh players in double-figures and the lower seed will need to get more scoring out of players like Jamel Artis, Sheldon Jeter and Chris Jones to hang with the top-seeded Tar Heels who will simply look to simply outscore the Panthers in this one early on Thursday at this Neutral site—just like it did in the first meeting.

But the combination of Confidence (from that 1st meetings and being the #1 seed), Rest and more talented North Carolina Roster, especially scoring-wise with Johnson, Paige, Berry II, Hicks and Kennedy Meeks—all of who average in double-figure scoring except for Reserve Hicks (9.2 ppg), should be too much in the end. Pittsburgh may desperately try to make this a Defensive game and to try to slow it down and fight to control the Boards, but the Tar Heels are too talented and too big and probably won’t go on any long scoring droughts or have the kind of mental lapses and large point-swings Pitt exhibited on Wednesday in it’s near-miss Win over #9 seed Syracuse in the 2nd Round of play here. Expect North Carolina to get out to an early double-digit lead here and then fend off any Panthers rallies, humbling the school from the Steel City and maybe popping them back on that Bubble, although with 21 wins, Pittsburgh and Head Coach Jamie Dixon may already have their Dance ticket punched for later this month although the Panthers really only have two Wins all season worth chirping about (Duke, Notre Dame).

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Predicted Final Score: North Carolina 80  Pittsburgh 67
NCAA Basketball Pick: North Carolina -7½
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle


Virginia vs. Georgia Tech
Malcolm Brogdon and #2 seed Virginia (24-6, 13-5 ACC) will face the #10 seed Georgia Tech (19-13, 9-10 ACC) in the Quarterfinals Round of the Atlantic Coast Conference at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC on Thursday with the winner of this game moving on to the Semifinals in Friday night’s second game (ESPN, 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT). Offshore Oddsmakers have opened Virginia up as 9½ (Pinnacle) favorites with the Total (Points) for this game opening up at 128 (Pinnacle). British bookmaker Ladbrokes had #2-seed Virginia listed at +250 odds to win the ACC Tournament with Georgia Tech at 80/1 before taking them down after the Tourney tipped. The highest odds on the screen to win the NCAA National Championship have Virginia at 140/1 (Ladbrokes) and Georgia Tech at 300/1 (Ladbrokes).


Previous Meeting This Season, Injuries, Players to Watch (Brogdon Time), Picks 
These two teams played once this Regular Season with Georgia Tech upsetting Virginia in Atlanta, 69-64 as 6-point underdogs (Total 133, Under) on Jan. 9 so Wednesday’s rally for an OT win against #7 seed Clemson in the 2nd Round of the ACC Tournament, 88-85, with the Tigers erasing an 18-point deficit had to irk the Cavaliers brass some as the Hoos beat Clemson twice this Regular Season. In that Yellow Jackets win over Virginia, the hosts jumped out to a 35-24 lead at Halftime and then held on in the 2nd Half for the win as Quinton Stephens (16 points), Nick Jacobs (16 points) and James White (9 rebounds) led Georgia Tech which went 53,3% (8-15) on 3-point attempts. The Cavaliers were a miserable 22.2% (4-18) on their 3-point attempts and that ended up being the difference for Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett and his squad which was led by star Malcolm Brogdon (19 points), London Perrantes (16 points) and Anthony Gill (11 points). Marcus Georges-Hunt and Georgia Tech 16-12-0 ATS can definitely upset the Cavaliers again in this spot, with the Neutral site being an advantage to Head Coach Brian Gregory and the Yellow Jackets who have already played here within the last day and Virginia (15-13-0 ATS) doesn’t have to win this game to make the NCAA Tournament. Georgia Tech does and can reach the 20-win mark with a victory and if this team can string together a couple more victories here in Washington, DC, who knows.

Both teams come into this game relatively healthy with no Injuries to report and the Point spread is a reflection of much oddsmakers respect Virginia (#2 RPI, .6562) who rank #1 in the Ken Pomeroy Rankings (.9486). Georgia Tech (#61 RPI, .7672) and Adam Smith (23 points vs. Clemson) rank #65 .5648. The best player on the court here will obviously be Cavaliers star Brogdon (16.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg) and it seems that the Yellow Jackets best game plan would be to just try to outgun Virginia from long-range like they did at Home in Atlanta with Smith (93-228 on 3’s) Georges-Hunt, and Quinton Stephens taking the most 3-point attempts for Georgia Tech (2-6 SU vs. AP Top 25). But no doubt it won’t some as easy as it did at McCamish Pavilion and Virginia may have a distinct fan advantage due to the Verizon Center’s proximity to the Mother State and the University of Virginia and Sporting News First Team All-American Brogdon, Anthony Gill (13.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg), London Perrantes (11.2 ppg), Mike Tobey (6.9 pg), Isaiah Wilkins (4.6 ppg), Devon Hall (4.6 ppg) and Darius Thompson (4.4 ppg) play really well as a team and will have Revenge on their minds. Defense and rebounding should be the difference here with Georgia Tech possibly getting a little tired around the 10-minute mark of the 2nd Half after having to go to OT on Wednesday night. That fatigue combined with the fact the Cavaliers haven’t played yet and will be well-rested and have future NBA stalwart Brogdon (43% 3-point range) should give Virginia enough to win this one by double-digits and move on to the Semifinals for our NCAA basketball pick.

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Predicted Final Score: Virginia 72  Georgia Tech 58
NCAA Basketball Pick: Virginia -10
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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