Bet Tar Heels -9.5 as Iowa Visits North Carolina

David Lawrence

Wednesday, December 3, 2014 2:24 PM GMT

The North Carolina Tar Heels endured an up-and-down week last week, but it ended on an upswing. One bad loss was followed by two very good wins for coach Roy Williams’ team, which now moves into the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. They’re a 9.5-point favorite on the college basketball lines versus Iowa on Wednesday.

The Iowa Hawkeyes Can Win Because…
Iowa is facing a North Carolina team that’s very unpredictable, and has been for the past few seasons. North Carolina is the kind of team in which you never quite know what to expect from it on a game-by-game basis. North Carolina played well at the end of last week, thumping UCLA and Florida in the Battle 4 Atlantis Thanksgiving holiday tournament, but North Carolina bumbled and stumbled at the start of that tournament, but North Carolina bumbled and stumbled at the start of that tournament in a loss to Butler

There are some really good things about the Tar Heels and some really bad things, which points to the team’s inconsistency. First, North Carolina is in the top 11 in assists, at 18.2 per game. That’s excellent. However, it’s amazing that the Tar Heels can rate that high when they’re not making shots. North Carolina is 122nd in the country in field goal percentage at .449, just below 45 percent. With this kind of split, it’s clear that when North Carolina players freelance and try to score by themselves, they miss shots. When the Tar Heels move the ball, they get a made basket off a pass, creating lots of assists. With this kind of inconsistency, Iowa has an opening. The Hawkeyes have a defense that is in the top 40 of the country, out of 351 teams. Iowa rates 36th, allowing under 58 points per game. If the Hawkeyes can hold North Carolina under 60, they’ll almost surely win.

 

The North Carolina Tar Heels Can Win Because…
They have figured things out and probably got a wake-up call along the way. North Carolina’s loss to Butler in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament was a horrible performance. The Tar Heels did many things wrong in that game, but the worst was allowing 29 offensive rebounds to a team without a lot of size. Butler is not a physically overwhelming team. North Carolina just did not hustle. The Tar Heels failed to box out. That kind of effort is unacceptable, and head coach Roy Williams clearly got through the message to his players. North Carolina crushed UCLA and Florida in the next two games in Atlantis. The Tar Heels gained a 14-point lead at halftime against the Bruins, and a 16-point lead at the break against the Gators. North Carolina’s hustle was evident against UCLA. The Tar Heels forced 23 turnovers. Against Florida, defense was once again the star for North Carolina, which held the Gators to 33-percente field goal shooting. If North Carolina hustles and pays attention, they should be able to cover the 9.5 points listed on the NCAA Basketball odds boards.

 

Outlook
In the end, playing at home is what should give North Carolina the energy it needs. When North Carolina plays with energy, it does well. This is not a good setup for Iowa, which shoots even worse than North Carolina does – the Hawkeyes hit just 43.2 percent of their shots. Take the Tar Heels with your NCAA Basketball picks here.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Tar Heels -9.5 at 5Dimes

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