These two ACC rivals continue to battle for the top spot in the ACC and this handicapper has readied his expert pick, looking to the point spread for the best betting value tonight.
Virginia vs. N. Carolina (P) 7:00 ET ESPN
These two Atlantic Coast Conference rivals continue to battle for the top spot in the ACC. Virginia enters the game at 19-1 SU, 12-6 ATS. That includes 7-1 SU, 5-3 ATS in conference play. N. Carolina enters at 17-5 SU, 11-11 ATS. That includes records of 7-2 SU, 2-7 ATS in conference play. Virginia may well be the best team in the country, but the situation clearly favors the Tar Heels tonight. Consider the events of the last 48 hours!
Virginia is coached by 6th year mentor Tony Bennett. In his previous 5 seasons, Virginia has won 15, 16, 22, 23 and 30 games. Last season, the Cavs made it to the Sweet 16, where they lost to Michigan St. This year at 19-1 SU, Tony Bennett looks to improve his record for the 6th consecutive season. The calling card for the Cavs is a pack-line defense. This means the defenders protect the paint but close quickly on any potential 3 point shooter. This year, Virginia opponents are averaging just 50 PPG, 34% from the field and 30% from the arc. On offense, they shoot 48% from the field, 40% from the arc and commit less than 9 TOs per game. With a positive double digit rebound margin, this team is for real! In addition, there is more athleticism on the perimeter with this year's trio of Brogdon, Perrantes, and Anderson. Virginia was cruising at 19-0 SU, before a Saturday night home court defeat vs. Duke. This is a classic undefeated letdown spot that's 48 hours later in a lose and travel scenario.
Again this season, 12th year N. Carolina HC Roy Williams has his Tar Heels contending for Big East superiority. This would have been a battle of one loss teams, if N. Carolina had not lost at Louisville on Saturday. The Tar Heels led well into the 2nd half before losing a 78-68 OT decision. That drops the recent N. Carolina record to just 1-7 ATS, but it also provides great line value in this game. Besides the motivation from that loss, N. Carolina well remembers the last time these teams met. It resulted in a 76-61 UVA victory in C'ville last year. Consider also the resiliency of N. Carolina teams under Williams. In his 12 year tenure at Chapel Hill, his Tar Heels are 52-25 ATS following a defeat, including 3-1 ATS this season. The victories have come by 22 or more points on 3 occasions. Finally, consider the strong home boards of the Smith Center where N. Carolina 56-7 SU L3+Y. In addition, under Williams, N. Carolina is 48-24 ATS when not favored by more than 9 points on this court.
This is about as good as a Saturday to Monday situation you get in college basketball. We get to fade a road team in undefeated letdown, while using a quality team who trails by a game in the loss column to their opponent, comes off a heartbreaking loss themselves, has revenge for a previous meeting loss and plays on an undeniably strong home court. Expect Virginia to leave the Smith Center with back-to-back losses.
Free NCAA Basketball Picks: Take N. Carolina at BetOnline