Tar Heels Will Extend Virginia Skid To 3

Tar Heels Cheerleader

Willie Bee

Saturday, February 18, 2017 4:50 PM GMT

Clinging to a 1-game lead in the ACC standings, North Carolina is a 5 point favorite on the NCAA basketball odds tonight at home vs. Virginia. Needless to say, this is a crucial game for both schools.

Season: 35-33-2 (-1.30)

Everything started to come unraveled for the Virginia Cavaliers at the end of January in a tough 61-59 loss at then No. 1 Villanova. There was no harm in losing by two on the defending champions' home floor, but dropping three of five conference contests since then has the Cavaliers in a dangerous late slide.

It won't be easy to turn things around Saturday when Virginia has to go on the road to face ACC leaders North Carolina. The crucial matchup at Dean Smith Center airs on ESPN beginning at 8:15 PM (ET), and the Tar Heels are 5 point favorites after initially going out -3½ at BetOnline where tonight's total is 138½.

 

Cavs Running Out Of Gas In Second Halves

Virginia (18-7 straight up, 14-9 against the spread) arrives in Chapel Hill off Wednesday's 65-55 loss at home to Duke. The Cavaliers frustrated the Blue Devils in the first half, holding one of the top scoring teams in the nation to just 21 points, but couldn't maintain that defensive intensity the final 20 minutes. That has been a troubling theme for Tony Bennett's bunch recently in dropping four of their last six, each loss seeing the opposition shoot 50% or better in the second halves.

While the Cavs were falling to Duke, North Carolina (22-5 SU, 13-13 ATS) was busy putting its second beat-down of the season on NC State. Favored by 11 on the NCAA basketball odds in Raleigh, the Tar Heels shot 56% from the field in the 97-73 triumph that came about five weeks after thrashing the Wolfpack by 51. The final stopped a string of 4-straight failures to cover the spread and ended with five UNC players scoring in double-digits. It was the Tar Heels' first game without Kenny Williams after the sophomore guard suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice this week.

 

Home Teams 7-2 ATS Last 9 Non-Tourney Contests

Saturday's skirmish is the first of two regular season meetings between UNC and UVA, the follow-up just nine days from now in Charlottesville. It's the 184th meeting in the series with the Tar Heels holding a commanding 130-53 lead splitting their clashes a year ago. The first was a 79-74 win and cover for the Cavaliers on their home court, the second coming in the ACC Championship which North Carolina took by a 61-57 count as 2½ point chalk. Virginia won the last time the schools played at Smith Center, a 75-64 final as 1 point road chalk in February 2015. The ACC title tilt last March stayed 'under' the mark, stopping a string of five consecutive 'over' winners which followed a stretch of 9-straight 'unders.'

This one has me scratching my head a bit trying to come up with a free college basketball pick. North Carolina is shooting very well right now which has me thinking of laying the points. The Heels have also played just two games that failed to reach this scoreboard mark, and that has me on the 'over.' Eeenie, meenie, miney, mo. Mark me down on the home team minus the points.

Free NCAAB Pick: North Carolina -5Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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