NCAA Basketball Pick: North Carolina vs. Virginia

Ross Benjamin

Friday, March 13, 2015 1:02 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 13, 2015 1:02 PM UTC

The ACC Tournament Semifinals takes place on Friday in Greensboro, North Carolina, and this handicapper is on top of it all. Here's our pick for North Carolina vs. Virginia.

#19 North Carolina Attempt to Knock Off #3 Virginia
North Carolina (23-10) and Virginia (29-2) will square off on Friday in the ACC Tournament Semifinals at 7:00 PM ET. The game is being played at Greensboro, North Carolina and will be televised by ESPN. According to the college basketball betting odds at BetOnline, Virginia is a 2.5 point favorite, and the posted total is 120.5. Virginia was a 75-64 winner at North Carolina in their only meeting this season. The Cavaliers covered as a 1.0 point road favorite, and the game went over the total of 129.5.

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Great Start to ACC Tourney for Tar Heels
The North Carolina Tar Heels are off to a terrific start to the ACC Tournament, defeating Boston College 81-63 in the first round on Wednesday, and then knocking off #14 Louisville 70-60 in the quarterfinals on Thursday. They currently have NCAA Basketball Championship Odds of +3000. The road gets even tougher today against the #3 ranked Virginia Cavaliers. The Tar Heels have won four of their last five games, and their only loss in that sequence came at the hands of #2 Duke. During that five game stretch, they’ve averaged 76.5 points per game, and shot a stellar 47.8% from the field. Despite those impressive offensive numbers, North Carolina has seen five of the last six go under the total. As a matter of fact, North Carolina has held its previous seven opponents to an average of just 62.6 points per game, and allowed them to shoot a paltry 38.1% from the field. They’ve also had a terrific +7.2 rebound per game differential over their previous five contests.


Going for a NCAA Tournament #1 Seed
The Virginia Cavaliers have been ranked as one of the top four teams in the country for the vast majority of the 2014-2015 college basketball campaign. They’ve put themselves in excellent position to be a #1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. With teams like Arizona, Wisconsin, and Gonzaga lurking on the periphery, the Cavaliers have little room for error in Greensboro. My personal feeling is they can secure one of the top four seeds for the “Big Dance” by at least reaching the ACC Final, and that should lend itself to an additional motivational factor for today’s game. Virginia imposed their will on Florida State in the ACC quarterfinals on Thursday, and easily came away with a 58-44 win. That result marked the fourteenth time in thirty-one games this that the Cavaliers held an opponent to less than 50-points. Needless to say, Virginia is a terrific defensive team that allows only 50.3 points per game, and holds opponents to a meager 35.8% from the field.


Final Analysis
The first time these two clubs met, North Carolina was able to push the pace of the game more to their liking, and Virginia surprisingly didn’t mind the quicker tempo at all. The Cavaliers shot 51.8% from the field in that contest, and there 56 field goal attempts was four more than their season average. The total in that contest was 9.0 points higher than where it is today. Granted the Cavaliers are arguably the best defensive team in the country, and North Carolina has been stellar on the defensive end in recent games. However, both teams are shooting the ball very well right now, and with this low of a total in NCAA basketball odds, there’s value on going over the number for one of your NCAA Basketball picks on Friday.

NCAA Basketball Picks: Play on North Carolina and Virginia to go over the total of 122 at Pinnacle

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