Free NCAA Basketball Picks: North Carolina vs. UNC Greensboro

Willie Bee

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 1:57 PM GMT

Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014 1:57 PM GMT

The UNC Tar Heels look to avoid their first 2-game losing skid since the start of last season's ACC slate when they travel for an NCAA basketball odds battle Tuesday in Greensboro.

The start of the 2014-15 season has been a bit of a struggle for Roy Williams and the North Carolina Tar Heels. Ranked sixth in both preseason polls and a 10/1 wager to win it all on the college basketball futures odds, the Tar Heels are teetering on falling out of the top 25 after suffering their third loss in nine games over the past weekend.

There's still plenty of time for Williams and his crew to get things together and be a force in the ACC as well as nest spring's NCAA Men's Tournament, and the Tar Heels have a very good shot to climb right back into the win column Tuesday night when they travel to take on UNC Greensboro. Tip-off at Greensboro Coliseum is set for a little past 7 PM (ET), and ESPN2 will carry the contest nationally.

North Carolina backers were initially asked to lay 20 vs. the Spartans, that spread inching up to 20½ overnight.  SBR's live NCAA basketball odds will have a total as soon as it is released.

The in-state foes are meeting for only the second time, the first clash coming just a little more than a year ago in Chapel Hill where the Tar Heels dispatched the Spartans by an 81-50 count. North Carolina's defense helped UNC smother Greensboro while building a 30-point lead at the half, with work on the offensive glass ultimately leading to the cover as 26½ point chalk. The contest fell well short of a 158½ point total.

 

Heels Have To Avoid Looking Ahead
Loss No. 3 on UNC's campaign came at Kentucky this past Saturday, 84-70, the first real road test for the Tar Heels. The top-ranked Wildcats ripped the nets for a 56.3% shooting performance in their first game without Alex Poythress, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week at practice, and outscored the Heels by 13 at the free throw line to beat the 12 point spread oddsmakers burdened them with.

Losing to Kentucky is something that is likely to happen to 31 teams before the regular season comes to a close next March, so UNC shouldn't feel too bad about that setback. But the other two losses -- to Butler in the Battle 4 Atlantis preseason tourney and at home a little more than a week ago to Iowa -- are tougher for Williams to swallow and explain.

No single phase of their game stands out as the culprit in the trio of setbacks, which immediately points to inconsistency for the Tar Heels. North Carolina was completely manhandled on the glass in the loss to Butler, then shot an embarrassing 27% from the field in tallying a season-low 55 points against the Hawkeyes. The Heels bested UK in the rebounding column and shot 45%, but 19 turnovers and allowing the Wildcats open looks cost them.

 

Spartans Aiming For 4th-Straight Victory
As sluggish a start has it has been for Williams and the Tar Heels, at least it has been better than the way Wes Miller's Greensboro gang came out of the gate. The Spartans suffered a 6-game skid after winning their season opener, but have started to climb out of that hole with three consecutive wins entering Tuesday's tilt.

An upset against UNC would not only be a huge lift for their morale, but also mark the Spartans' first 4-game win streak since taking seven straight in January 2012, shortly after Miller -- who played for Williams in Chapel Hill from 2004-07 -- took over as head coach at the tender age of 28.  None of the three recent wins have been easy for Miller, the dubyas coming by a combined margin of seven points. Greensboro has been adjusting its rotation recently with the return of sophomore guard Diante Baldwin after he missed the start of the schedule with a knee injury.

North Carolina has a big game on deck with a matchup this weekend in Chicago against Ohio State, meaning Williams has to get his team to forget about the loss to Kentucky as well as not look ahead to the Buckeyes.  The Heels have the talent to roll past the Spartans by 20+, but I'm counting on UNCG to stay inside that number for my free NCAA basketball pick.

Free NCAA Basketball pick: UNC Greensboro +20.5 at 5Dimes

Season: 2-4 (-2.40)

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