The North Carolina Tar Heels take aim at their third consecutive win Sunday when they host the Virginia Tech Hokies in an ACC college basketball odds battle.
Good luck finding much sports to watch today outside the NFL conference championships. The NBA, NHL and college basketball have yielded their schedules to pro football, leaving very little for those of us who don't give a damn about the NFL to watch and wager on.
Then again, as cold as my free College Basketball picks have been lately, maybe all I need to do is watch the few games that do appear on Sunday's slate.
Coming off a huge Saturday card that included five matchups between ranked teams, only two top-25 squads are in action today, none of the games being carried nationally by any of the big networks. One of those two ranked teams is North Carolina, the Tar Heels checking in at No. 15 in the AP poll and No. 16 according to the coaches.
Tasked with trying to beat North Carolina on its home floor are the Virginia Tech Hokies in a 6:30 PM (ET) tip at Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill. ESPNU will carry the game into a few households with Adam Amin handling play-by-play duties alongside former Tar Heel great Brad Daugherty. North Carolina is huge 22½ point chalk, 147½-148 the early totals showing up on ESPN's live NCAA basketball odds.
Heels Aim For 5th-Straight Win In Series
It's a series that has belonged lock, stock and barrel to North Carolina. The Tar Heels have run off four consecutive wins to build a 64-13 record over Va Tech, the Hokies earning just one win in the last 10 meetings.
Virginia Tech's only win at Smith Center came almost eight years ago during the 2007 ACC schedule when the Hokies topped the Tar Heels twice. Paced by Zabian Dowdell's 33 points, Va Tech scored an 81-80 overtime win as a 15 point underdog against UNC, one of just three victories over the Tar Heels since Roy Williams took over as head coach.
Last season's lone matchup took place in Blacksburg where the Heels held on for a 60-56 triumph. North Carolina was giving up 10½ in that one, and has only one cover in the 4-game win streak while the 'under' has also cashed three times in that span.
Hokies Drag 4-Game Skid To Chapel Hill
Still winless in three conference matchups, Virginia Tech (8-8 straight up, 5-5 against the spread) is in the midst of a very tough stretch on the schedule with UNC the second of four consecutive ranked teams for Buzz Williams and his squad. It's also the 3rd-straight road game for the Hokies who return home this week to face Notre Dame and Virginia.
The Hokies did manage to beat the college basketball odds in two of the three ACC contests, including a similar spread earlier this week at Louisville. Getting 22 from the oddsmakers, Virginia Tech fell behind 17-2 to begin the game and never could catch up in the 78-63 final.
Making a difficult situation for the Hokies today even worse is they are likely to once again be without Joey Van Zegeren. The junior forward was suspended indefinitely about two weeks ago following a tantrum at practice, and there's no timetable for when the suspension will be lifted.
UNC Looks To Keep Pace With ACC Leaders
While Virginia Tech is in the throes of a tough stretch of games, North Carolina (13-4 SU, 10-7 ATS) is catching a little breather with its next three opponents a combined 2-11 in conference play. A win today would be the Tar Heels' 3rd-straight and leave them just a game behind conference front-runner Virginia.
North Carolina's last three games have ended with two points or less between the victors and losers, the Heels favored in all three and unable to cover the spreads. It took a strong offensive performance earlier this week to just scrape by North Carolina State, so I'm going to grab the points today with a free pick on the Hokies.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Virginia Tech +21 at Pinnacle
Season: 19-26 (-9.60)