Recent Trends Point To Virginia Tech As The NCAA Basketball Pick Over North Carolina

Jason Lake

Saturday, January 23, 2016 7:27 PM UTC

Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 7:27 PM UTC

The North Carolina Tar Heels are No. 2 in the rankings, but are they really all that? The Virginia Tech Hokies have been the better NCAA basketball pick when they've met.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Virginia Tech +11.5 (–105)
Best Line Offered: at WagerWeb


There aren't too many college basketball teams with more prestige than the North Carolina Tar Heels. They've got five National Championships, two of those (2005, 2009) with head coach Roy Williams in charge. Their alumni list includes Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Bob McAdoo and Vince Carter. And this year's team is ranked No. 2 on both the AP and coaches polls.

This year's team is also a bunch of losers. The Tar Heels (17-2 SU, 8-10-1 ATS) have dropped the cash in four of their last six games, each time as double-digit favorites – which is what they'll be this Sunday when they visit the Virginia Tech Hokies (12-7 SU, 7-6 ATS) at 6:30 p.m. Eastern. Provided the weather holds up, of course. As we go to press, North Carolina is a 11.5-point chalk on our NCAA basketball odds board, up from –10.5 when the lines opened about an hour ago.


Carolina Bleah
The Tar Heels don't always underperform like this. Sometimes, they're so good, they exceed market expectations. Let's take a quick walk through the last few seasons to see how Williams and his crew have held up under the burden of all that chalk:

2014-15: 26-12 SU, 20-17 ATS
2013-14: 24-10 SU, 16-18 ATS
2012-13: 25-11 SU, 21-13 ATS
2011-12: 32-6 SU, 20-17 ATS
2010-11: 29-8 SU, 16-17-1 ATS
2009-10: 20-17 SU, 13-22 ATS
2008-09: 34-4 SU, 17-19 ATS

That's a whole lot of m'eh right there. There was the difficult 09-10 rebuild after winning their last title, and there was the surprisingly decent 12-13 team following the departures of Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Harrison Barnes. In between and since, m'eh. This year's Heels may be No. 2 in the polls, but they're No. 5 on Ken Pomeroy's stat-friendly rankings, with the No. 54-ranked defense in Division I.


To Blacksburg & Beyond
The No. 107-ranked Hokies aren't exactly tearing up the court, mind you. But they've made big improvements in their second year under head coach Buzz Williams, and they've gone 4-2 SU and 5-1 ATS in their last six games, including upset victories versus North Carolina State (–2.5 away), Virginia (–12.5 away) and Georgia Tech (–7.5 at home). Also: The Hokies are 5-1 ATS in their last six games against North Carolina. This team is not to be trifled with.

Given the recent performances of both teams, it seems prudent to add Virginia Tech to our NCAA basketball picks. The fine folks at Sports-Reference have North Carolina rated 14.7 points higher than the Hokies on the Simple Rating System, which takes all of this season's results thus far into account. Take away four points for home court, and you get something close to the current point spread. We'll put our trust in Tech as a rising commodity, and as always, may the sphere be with you for your Sunday's college basketball picks.

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