The Clemson Tigers are the visitors who will be looking to pile on the Tar Heels' early woes in a 6 PM (ET) tip at Dean Smith Center. ESPN will carry the game on the U along with an on-line stream, and UNC started the college basketball betting proceedings as 6.5 to 7 point chalk, that number up to 7.5 at some shops.
While UNC is struggling on the early conference slate with four defeats in five games, Clemson is off to a somewhat surprising 4-2 record in league standings. I say surprising since the Tigers were listed at 75:1 choice to win the ACC in the preseason NCAA futures odds, the second-biggest long shot behind Virginia Tech (100:1).
But the Tigers are coming off a completely unacceptable performance this week vs. Pittsburgh, and they're heading to a gym they've never tasted victory at before. The Tar Heels are a perfect 56-0 vs. Clemson in Chapel Hill, and own a commanding 127-20 advantage in the series all-time after winning the last five meetings.
Not only has North Carolina won the last five, the Heels have covered four of those games with the other a push. The only get-together last season came at Clemson where UNC posted a 68-59 triumph laying 3.5. The Tar Heels are 4-0 against the spread the last four at home vs. Clemson.
Tigers Start 3-Game Road Trip With 30-Point Loss
Clemson (13-5 straight up, 9-4 ATS) seemed to be on a roll with a string of three straight wins started vs. Duke, but that was before Tuesday's trek into Pittsburgh. Granted, the Tigers were 11 point underdogs, but they could've only pushed a line three times that amount in a 76-43 loss that began a 3-game road trip, not to mention trips to Syracuse and Notre Dame in two of the three contests that follow. That doesn't bode well for Clemson considering four of its five defeats this season have been away from home.
Brad Brownell knows how important this game is if his Tigers are going to stay in the upper third of the ACC ranks heading into the tournament. That 15-team bracket will give the top 5 teams a double-bye, and my crystal ball says Clemson needs to win at least seven of the final 12 conference games to have a shot at No. 5. With only half of those games at home, that means picking up at least one more road win, and probably 2-3.
Then again, my crystal ball also suggests the Tigers may not even get a Round 1 bye if they can't win a minimum of five games remaining, and UNC currently sits as one of the easier games left, as strange as that may sound.
Heels Still Looking For Second ACC Win
It's quite the mystery how North Carolina (11-7 SU, 7-11 ATS) could beat the likes of Louisville, Michigan State and Kentucky during the first five weeks or so of the season, and struggle now against conference foes. The lone ACC win for the Tar Heels came against a pretty bad Boston College team, and they failed to cover that one. In fact, UNC has but one spread victory the last nine trips to the floor.
Williams' squad was soundly defeated this past Monday at Virginia where the Cavaliers left a 76-61 mark on North Carolina. The Tar Heels were getting 7.5 points from the oddsmakers, and kept the game close the first 15 minutes before Virginia took control in a game that slid 'over' the 128.5 point total.
Speaking of the total, the books still haven't released one so I'll set mine at 133. And I'll make my free NCAA Basketball pick on the Tigers and Tar Heels not reaching that mark.
My pick: Clemson-North Carolina Under 133Season: 24-16-2 (+6.4)