NCAAB Free Pick: With Notre Dame Missing Stars, ‘Under’ is the Play vs. UNC

Willie Bee

Saturday, January 13, 2018 12:43 PM UTC

Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 12:43 PM UTC

A couple of teams chasing Virginia in the ACC go at it today, and we have a free college basketball pick for the North Carolina-Notre Dame matchup.

My pick: UNC-ND Under 148
Best Lines are at Bookmaker
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A couple of weeks into the conference season, the ACC belongs to Virginia who has managed to remain unscathed in four league contests. Lurking within two games of the Cavaliers, however, are nine teams, and two of those meet in one of Saturday’s most crucial matchups as the North Carolina Tar Heels pay the Notre Dame Fighting Irish a visit.

The first of two regular-season clashes between the schools tips at 6 PM (ET), ESPN providing the television coverage from South Bend. Both teams sit in the top 20 of the KenPom rankings, North Carolina at 11 and Notre Dame 17, and SBR’s top sports books have the Tar Heels favored by 5-5½ with 146½-147½ for the total.

Irish Missing Top 2 Scorers
It’s not so much that North Carolina has dropped four games already, but how the Tar Heels really stunk it up in three of the defeats. The latest of those performances was a week ago at Virginia where the Cavaliers pasted a 61-49 decision on UNC. Roy Williams put it on himself for not having the Heels ready, but he wasn’t the one who turned it over 19 times and shot under 30% for a second time this season. Williams apparently had his team ready in the following game, a 96-66 whipping of Boston College in Chapel Hill.

After winning their first three ACC contests, the Fighting Irish stumbled at Georgia Tech a few days ago in a 60-53 setback while getting 2 points on the NCAA basketball odds. Long-range shooting was a problem for a second consecutive game, Mike Brey’s bunch connecting on just 4-of-18 from outside the arc. It was Notre Dame’s third game without Bonzie Colson, the 6-6 senior out until early-to-mid March with a foot injury. The Irish have also been without senior guard Matt Farrell the past two games, and he is doubtful for this battle with a bum ankle.

Rivalry Notes, Final Thoughts & A Free Pick
North Carolina has built a 21-7 lead in the series that began about 60 years ago, but the rivalry has tightened up considerably since Notre Dame joined the ACC, the Tar Heels winning five of the last eight matchups. Three of the last five battles came during tournament play, including a 2016 Elite Eight contest that UNC won and covered as 9½ point chalk. Six of the last eight meetings sent ‘under’ bettors back to the pay window.

The Tar Heels have burned me several times this season, enough at least to scare me off playing them. The Irish are a tough follow right now with their top two scorers missing, so that leaves me thinking ‘under’ for my free college basketball pick.

Season: 21-28-1 (-8.40)

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