NCAA Basketball Picks for North Carolina vs. Virginia

Willie Bee

Monday, January 20, 2014 2:06 PM GMT

The choice is yours: Spend the next two weeks reading and listening to a lot of worthless drivel and concocted controversy about the upcoming Super Bowl, or put your time and energy to better use by enjoying the college basketball betting slate that is heating up on its drive to March Madness.

I don't know about you, but I'm going with the second option.

Anyone who chooses to stay glued to NFL news is going to miss a huge week for Roy Williams and the North Carolina Tar Heels. It begins with Monday's matchup in Charlottesville against the Virginia Cavaliers, and ends Sunday back home in Chapel Hill opposite the Clemson Tigers. We're going to trail both games with previews and free picks.

SBR's live NCAA basketball odds show Virginia favored by 7 or 7.5 points; totals are not available yet, but I'm guessing the low 130s. ESPN will provide the broadcast beginning at 7 PM (ET).

North Carolina has dominated the series 128-50 over the last 103 years or so, and won four of the last five meetings. The clubs split last season's two contests, each winning at home with the Cavaliers' 61-52 victory as 3 point favorites their first ever vs. the Tar Heels at John Paul Jones Arena. The Heels returned that favor with a 93-81 triumph back home as 5 point chalk in a game that sailed well past a 128 point total.

[gameodds]14/255431/?r3=43-19-349/dec&r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Heels Out To Build Off 1st ACC Victory

We caught North Carolina (11-6 straight up, 7-10 against the spread) a couple of Saturdays ago on the road at Syracuse where the still-unbeaten Orange handed the Tar Heels their third straight loss to begin the ACC campaign. Williams' squad then returned home, took a few days off and replaced that goose egg in the conference win column with an 82-71 decision over Boston College.

While UNC did get the victory this past weekend, it was still a loss for Tar Heel backers who have failed to cash in any ACC matchup and have dropped the cash seven of the last eight games. Defensive issues still persisted for North Carolina, especially on the perimeter, and some late sloppy play by the Eagles aided the Tar Heels as much as their own good play.

North Carolina also lost the rebounding battle to Boston College, and the Tar Heels will be facing an even better group on the glass Monday night. The Heels are first in the ACC averaging nearly 40 boards per conference contest, with Virginia second on that list grabbing 36.2 per game.

Cavs Need Win To Keep Pace With Syracuse

Monday's tilt is the middle of a 3-game homestand for Virginia (13-5 SU, 8-6 ATS), and just the third ACC battle in front of the home fans for the Cavaliers. The first matchup on this homestand was Saturday when UVA built an early lead over Florida State before skating to a 78-66 victory as 6 point chalk. The win was the second for Tony Bennett's squad over the Seminoles on the young conference schedule, and the fifth consecutive cover since being thoroughly whipped at Tennessee in late-December.

That victory also helped the Cavaliers to bounce back from their only ACC defeat so far, a tough 69-65 setback last Monday in Durham where Duke needed a late trey to avoid the upset as a 5.5 point favorite. Virginia trailed the Blue Devils by 11 with under four minutes to play before a 13-1 run gave the Cavaliers the lead. Rasheed Sulaimon's 3-pointer with 19 seconds left sealed Virginia's fate.

I love what Bennett has done at Virginia, but I'm not so sure about the Cavaliers being able to cover this spread.  I'll be taking the Heels and the points in this battle for my free college basketball pick.

College Basketball Pick: North Carolina +7.5