Sunday College Hoops Selections Feature St. Johns & UNC

Jay Pryce

Sunday, December 17, 2017 1:27 PM UTC

Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017 1:27 PM UTC

Ranked action between No. 7 North Carolina and No. 20 Tennessee and St John’s Madison Square Garden debut versus Iona feature in our top college basketball picks Sunday. Get your best bets here.

No.7 North Carolina (-1) at No. 20 Tennessee

No. 7 North Carolina (9-1 SU, 6-3 ATS) heads to Knoxville with at least nine wins through its first 10 games for the sixth time in the last 15 years. A strong transition offense is once again the squad’s strength under head coach Roy Williams. The team ranks 11th in adjusted offensive efficiency nationally, scoring 116.8 points per 100 possessions. Junior forward Luke Maye, two-time ACC Player of the Week, tops the team in scoring (19.9), rebounding (10.5), filed goal percentage (57.1) and minutes (31.3). He’s also recorded eight double-doubles. Maye and the team are feeling it this year:

On the 2nd day of Carolina the Tar Heels gave to me ??

Brandons Dancing ??
Banner Reveal ??#CarolinaSZN

— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) December 15, 2017

No. 20 Tennessee’s (7-1 SU, 4-2 ATS) sophomore sensation Grant Williams counters Maye. The matchup will be one of the keys to winning the contest. Williams leads Tennessee with 16.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Built like a tight end (6-7, 241 lbs), he is a force on the defensive end with 1.9 swats per game, helping the team to a top-10 ranking in block percentage nationally.

The Volunteers are easily the biggest surprise in a deep SEC conference that sees every team ranked in the top 90 per KenPom. They have four top-100 wins on its resume and led No. 1 Villanova by 15 at one point in a 85-76 defeat earlier. Defense is the team strength, ranking 16th in adjusted efficiency. Tennessee excels at plugging the paint and protecting the rim, yielding a 40.4 opponent 2-point field goal percentage, fifth best in the country.

The Williams-led Tar Heels have matched up against an AP top 20 non-conference opponent away from home 11 times prior to today. They are 4-7 SU and 6-5 ATS overall. The most glaring trend in this situation is the ‘under,’ which is 8-1 since 2006. A 146.2 final score is staying 8.3 points below a 154.6 average total. Poor shooting tends to plague both teams in this spot with a combined 85.9 field goal percentage. UNC often shifts gears for a strong defensive showing. It has held all but two opponents under their projected team total by 6.5 points on average.

The Volunteers post 79.4 points per game, the number dipping to 70.8 in regulation time in four matchups with a single-digit line. Look for a similar final here. The Tar Heels stay within range, but also find it difficult near the rim. Pick ‘under’ 156 in this coin-flip encounter for the best value.

Free NCAAB Picks: UNDER 156
Best Lines are at Bookmaker
[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3336369, "sportsbooksIds":[93,169,19,1096,999991], "LineTypeId":3, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]Iona at St. Johns (-9.5)

St. Johns (8-2 SU, 4-4 ATS) makes its Madison Square Garden debut this season off to its second-best start in the last eight years. Defense, surprisingly, is the difference-maker, surrendering 62.2 points per game, 23rd in Division-I hoops. Last year, the Johnnies allowed 78.7 per tilt.

Shamorie Ponds lead the Chris Mullin-led group on offense. The second-year guard ranks in the Big East top 10 in points (20.1), rebounds (6.4), assists (5.1), free-throw percentage (88.3), and steals (2.4). Second-leading scorer Marcus LoVett is out due to injury, but shouldn’t slow down the quick-paced Johnnies (53rd in tempo)

Defense is never Iona’s (5-4 SU, 4-2 ATS) strong suit, especially under head coach Tim Cluess. It ranks 215th in adjusted efficiency, surrendering 105.6 points per 100 possessions. This is problematic when playing on the road versus better programs. As an away underdog versus non-conference opponents, the Gaels yield 84.4 points per game on 47.4 percent shooting in Cluess’ tenure. The ‘over’ is 17-7, exceeding a 155.4 average total by 6.0 points per game. St Johns rolls 88-75 in a fast-paced Garden feature. Pick ‘over’ 153.5 for a winner.

Free NCAAB Picks: OVER 153.5
Best Lines are at 5Dimes
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