Go 'Under' For Your North Carolina vs. Notre Dame NCAA Basketball Picks

Jason Lake

Friday, February 5, 2016 8:54 PM GMT

The chalk will be flying when the Notre Dame Fighting Irish host the North Carolina Tar Heels this Saturday. Recent history says the Irish are the better NCAA Basketball pick.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 160.5
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker 

 

Jason's 2015-16 record as of Feb. 5: 3-2 ATS, 1-0 Totals

If you've been making NCAA Basketball picks for a while, you'll know all about the North Carolina Tar Heels and how chalky they can get sometimes. But why do bettors keep loading up on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish? It must be the brand recognition. It certainly can't be the basketball; the Irish did make the Elite Eight last year, and they've had some success under head coach Mike Brey, but this year's squad isn't all that.

We'd normally be quite happy to fade Notre Dame in situations like this Saturday's game (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN) against the visiting Tar Heels. The Irish have opened as 1.5-point underdogs on our NCAA Basketball odds board, but the advanced stats say North Carolina has been performing better than that. However, this is the Tar Heels we're dealing with. The chalky, chalky Tar Heels.

 

Heavy Rotation
As you can already tell, we're ditching the spread and going with the total – except we don't have a total yet as we go to press. Whatever number you see up above, if any, was filled in afterward. But this isn't about us; this is about you, and what you should do with your money. If the total comes out and you think it's too high to play the OVER, then don't.

Otherwise, it's a good soft option. Both the Tar Heels (19-3 SU, 9-12-1 ATS) and the Fighting Irish (15-7 SU, 8-11-1 ATS) have been struggling to beat the spread this year. These are two of the Top 30 teams on the public money charts as we go to press, and they're both coming off somewhat successful 2014-15 campaigns – North Carolina reached the Sweet Sixteen last year. Their profit margins as fade candidates are going to cancel each other out.

 

One-Way Traffic
Even if we ignore all that, we're still at cross-purposes. The Irish are 2-1 SU and 3-0 ATS in their last three games against North Carolina, including their 90-82 ACC title win as 3.5-point puppies in Greensboro. But this year's Heels are rated seven points higher than the Irish on the Simple Rating System at Sports-Reference. That should translate to around Notre Dame +3 in South Bend.

We get much better synergy between the two teams when it comes to the total. The OVER is 14-8 this year for North Carolina and 12-8 for Notre Dame. Both clubs are heavy on offense and suspect on defense – especially the Irish. According to Ken Pomeroy's stats, Notre Dame has the No. 1 offense in Division I, and the No. 227-ranked defense. Hoo boy. Again, make sure the total is to your satisfaction before jumping in, but this is where we think the profit margin will be.