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Armando Bacot of the North Carolina Tar Heels moves the ball against Dominic Parolin of the Lehigh Mountain Hawks during the game at the Dean E. Smith Center as we look at our North Carolina-Virginia prediction.
Armando Bacot of the North Carolina Tar Heels moves the ball against Dominic Parolin of the Lehigh Mountain Hawks during the game at the Dean E. Smith Center. Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images/AFP.

Our UNC-Virginia prediction based on the best college basketball odds expects a slow, low-scoring affair in Charlottesville.

It’s been a roller-coaster of a season for the Virginia Cavaliers, with a slow start during ACC play putting the program's NCAA Tournament hopes in question before it ripped off eight straight wins. However, Tony Bennett’s team now must play one of the few squads that looks capable of winning the Big Dance in the North Carolina Tar Heels.

To make matters worse for Virginia, the Cavaliers seem to have fallen back to earth in recent weeks with a 1-2 stretch. That includes a 34-point loss on the road against arch rival Virginia Tech when the Cavs went scoreless for nearly 10 minutes of game time.

That fall from grace is great timing for UNC, which remains ranked No. 10 despite dealing with issues of its own over the last three weeks. With the Tar Heels losing three of their last six games and the Cavs looking like a mess offensively, this ACC duel is shaping up to be an ugly one.

In conjunction with our USC-UCLA prediction, here is our best North Carolina vs. Virginia prediction and our college basketball picks (odds via our best March Madness betting sites; Pick confidence is based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

UNC vs. Virginia prediction

Under 130.5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Best odds: -110 via BetMGM

The way the Virginia Cavaliers play basketball is almost indescribable, and it’s a dying breed of play. Tony Bennett won a National Championship doing it, and the Wahoos' style won't change as long as he’s leading the program.

But it's great for betting the Under, especially when this inept Cavs offense needs to play a talented defense like the one the North Carolina Tar Heels possess.

Virginia is scoring just 64.1 points per game in 2023-24, which ranks 353rd in the country. The team also sits 163rd in adjusted offensive efficiency, according to KenPom, and 12th in the ACC in team OBPR, per Evan Miyakawa. The Cavaliers don't score points, and they run the slowest offense in the country, sitting 362nd in adjusted tempo. What makes this Cavs offense particularly hard to watch is the unit's struggles inside the arc, where its shooting 47.9% from two while ranking 297th. That should make North Carolina’s job easier.

The Tar Heels are 10th in adjusted defensive efficiency and third in the ACC in team DBPR. They match up well with Virginia, a team that leans on 3-point efficiency. UNC is holding opponents to just 30.3% from behind the arc, which ranks 27th in the country. That should zap any offensive momentum the Cavs try to build, as they sit 336th in field goal attempts per game.

The most significant threat to the Under will be North Carolina’s offense, which is one of the nation's best. But the Cavs' pace will limit the Tar Heels' possessions, and Virginia's defense can contain North Carolina to some extent.

Virginia is third in the country in points allowed per game at 58.6, and the team ranks ninth in adjusted defensive efficiency and first in the ACC in team DBPR. Opponents are only putting up 52.3 shots per game against the Cavs and shooting 39.8% from the floor, 45.6% from two, and 31.3% from three. Don’t doubt a North Carolina win is coming, but Virginia will do everything it can to make the Tar Heels earn it in a rock fight.

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UNC vs. Virginia best odds

-110 via BetMGM

Under 130Under 130.5Under 130.5Under 130Under 130

Editor's note: With North Carolina sports betting set to launch on March 11, check out our best North Carolina sports betting apps and the best North Carolina sportsbook promos! 21+ and present in NC. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER

Our sportsbooks that offer the best North Carolina sportsbook promos are mostly on the same page regarding with this game total, but BetMGM is offering the best value. Adding that half point without impacting the odds is a major win when it comes to this matchup between North Carolina and Virginia.

Given the Cavaliers style of play mixed with its offensive struggles and defensive dominance this season, finding a game total higher than this is rare for one of Virginia’s outings. The Cavs have only been given a game total of 130-plus points six times in 2023-24, and the Under is 5-1 in those affairs.

UNC vs. Virginia odds

UNC vs. Virginia odds analysis

Virginia may be enduring a down campaign by its standards, but playing in Charlottesville is still a tough task for any program, even No. 10 North Carolina. That’s why the Tar Heels opened as just a 2 to 2.5-point road favorite at our best sports betting sites, with the line moving to -3 before settling in at 2.5. North Carolina is 15-11 against the spread this season, and Virginia is 14-12-1.

A Cavs game opening with a total of 130 at our best sportsbooks speaks volumes about how explosive the Tar Heels' offense has been in 2023-24. The total hasn’t budged, with both FanDuel and BetMGM standing out while offering it at 130.5. UNC is 13-12-1 to the Over this season while UVA is 11-16.

UNC vs. Virginia game info

  • When: Saturday, Feb. 24 at 4 p.m. ET
  • Where: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA
  • How to watch: ESPN

North Carolina-Virginia prediction made 2/24/24 at 8:39 a.m. ET.

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