Tar Heels to Cover Odds in East vs. North Carolina Basketball

David Lawrence

Sunday, December 7, 2014 1:41 PM GMT

Some NCAA Basketball bettors question whether or not the UNC Tar Heels should be in the Top 25 after this week. They will host the East Carolina Pirates on Sunday as a massive 24-point favorites.

The East Carolina Pirates Can Win Because…
North Carolina hasn’t played well to start the season. If you’ve been placing your NCAA Basketball picks on them, they’ve already cost you cost you a pretty penny. They were laying nearly double-digits at home to the Iowa Hawkeyes on Wednesday and managed to lose outright. The same was the situation – except it was a neutral site – when they played the Butler Bulldogs on the last Wednesday in November, yet they managed to lost that one outright too 74-66.

Sure, East Carolina is not a great basketball team but neither are the Tar Heels right now. The Tar Heels gave up 15 offensive rebounds in the second to Iowa on Wednesday, which is incredible. Rebounding has been a big problem for this team. They were outrebounded 19-15 at the offensive end against Florida and 57-40 overall (29-14 at the offensive end) against Butler. With problems like this, North Carolina is clearly vulnerable. Although the Pirates probably won’t win outright here, there’s a more than reasonable chance they cover the spread in today's College Basketball odds here.

 

The North Carolina Tar Heels Can Win Because…
They’re going to play better in this game. They simply have to. The Tar Heels fell asleep in the second half against Iowa on Wednesday and that cost them. They were simply outhustled to a lot of balls and the Hawkeyes, as a result, got a ton of second-chance points that they cashed in on. That’s not likely to happen again after head coach Roy Williams tore a strip off his team this week.

The Tar Heels should have a significant edge in talent here and while rebounding has been a major issue for them, it probably won’t crop up in this one. The Pirates average just 11 offensive rebounds per game, which ranks them outside of the Top 175 teams in the country. On top of that, they could be without one of their best players as forward Marshall Guilmette hasn’t played since the opening two games of the season. He totaled 24 points and 13 rebounds in those games. This just looks like a get-well game for UNC, so take them here.

 

Outlook
The bottom line here is that East Carolina has lost 20 straight against ranked opponents. Their last win was over Marquette back in 2002. They’re not likely to get the win here. Can they cover, though? I’m not going to trust them in that spot either. They are coming off a nine-point loss at Florida Atlantic and have already lose by 27 to Green Bay earlier this year. As long as the Tar Heels are focused – and by all accounts they should be – they should cover the massive spread here.

Free College Basketball Pick: Tar Heels -22.5 at The Greek