Free NCAAB Picks: Back Small Favorite UNC -1 Over Ohio State

Steven Suarez

Saturday, December 20, 2014 1:08 PM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014 1:08 PM UTC

Two of the nation's most respected college basketball programs will meet up inside the United Center early Saturday. Who should we favor when putting in our final college basketball picks?

Odds Overview
For now, the Tar Heels are one-point favorites in the college basketball odds, which is pretty interesting considering Ohio State is ranked quite a bit higher than UNC at this point. 

We'll have to wait a little longer before the total for this matchup is released. However, be on the lookout for a huge number, considering both teams are averaging at least 80 points a game so far this season.

North Carolina Tar Heels
As is the case with a number of other teams, it's been a rollercoaster of a season for the Tar Heels, but the results have mostly been on the positive side.

Yes, UNC has lost three games, but the losses came against Kentucky, the best team in the country, and then Iowa and Butler. We're not going to overreact, especially this early in the season before conference play has even kicked off. 

Not only have the Tar Heels pulled off some solid wins this season, but one quick look at the roster and you can tell this team is going to be a force. Kennedy Meeks has been doing a little of everything, while Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, Justin Jackson and J.P. Tokoto have been worthwhile contributors too. 

This is a team that's practically scoring at will (an even 80 points per game on average), and one that's also been dominant on the boards. Hauling down an average of 44.3 rebounds per contest, the Tar Heels are ranked fourth in the entire country, so that's a big advantage they'll have over the Buckeyes on Saturday.

Ohio State Buckeyes
Aside from a loss to Louisville, the Buckeyes have been steamrolling through the competition. They're sitting pretty at 9-1 overall, although it should be noted that their schedule hasn't exactly been all that difficult.

Coming into the weekend, Ohio State has recorded four consecutive victories, all of which came in easy fashion. They haven't lost by less than 16 points during the span, but again we have to stress that they didn't have to go through a gauntlet in terms of their opponent.

Looking over the Buckeyes' roster, there's one name that stands out, and that's D'Angelo Russell. He's been the clear go-to guy for the team, averaging 18.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 5.2 APG. He's been as versatile as they come and should continue to be a major factor against UNC this weekend. Marc Loving, Sam Thompson, Kam Williams and Shannon Scott have been doing well too.

Like UNC, the Buckeyes have been scoring the ball at a blistering pace -- they're averaging an impressive 84.2 points per game, which is the 10th-best mark in college basketball. Their efficiency will certainly be tested against a similarly effective team in the Tar Heels, however.

NCAA Basketball Pick
We really like this spot for the Tar Heels, whom we believe to be the more talented team. This is a very short number, so in essence a straight up win would get the job done for backers.

In looking at Ohio State's season, we think their record has gotten padded from a lot of wins over not-so-good opponents. We don't believe the Buckeyes deserve to be ranked so highly, but we're perfectly fine with taking advantage with our college basketball picks here on Saturday.

The Tar Heels have already played a number of times on neutral courts (going 3-1 SU with wins over Florida, UCLA and Davidson) and we expect them to add another victory to that tally. Back UNC as your  NCAAB pick to cash as the small favorites in the Windy City this weekend.

Free NCAA Basketball Pick: UNC Tar Heels -1 at Bookmaker

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