ACC Championship Betting Preview: #5 North Carolina Tar Heels vs #3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

ACC Championship Game
#5 North Carolina Tar Heels vs #3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Greensboro Coliseum – Greensboro, North Carolina
Saturday, March 14, 2015,  8:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: North Carolina -2 1/2
Current Line: North Carolina -3
Opening Total: 150
Current Total: 150 1/2
Opening Money Line: North Carolina -140 / Notre Dame +120
Current Money Line: North Carolina -150 / Notre Dame +130

Notre Dame faces North Carolina for the ACC Championship Saturday.
Notre Dame faces North Carolina for the ACC Championship Saturday.

While Duke and Virginia were the class of the ACC and are both in line for #1 seeds in the NCAA tournament, neither of the top 2 seeds made the ACC Tournamnet Championship game. Instead the #5 seed North Carolina Tar Heels and #3 seed Notre Dame Fighting Irish will do battle for the title Saturday in Grennsboro, North Carolina.

North Carolina is 24-10 overall and finished fifth in the ACC at 11-7. The Tar Heels beat Boston College 81-63 in the second round, Louisville 70-60 in the quarterfinals and upset Virginia 71-67 in the semifinals last night. North Carolina is projected to be around a #4 seed in the NCAA tournament.  The Tar Heels have won 25 conference tournament championships, but none since 2008.

Notre Dame is 28-5 overall and finished third in the ACC at 14-4. The Fighting Irish are projected to be somewhere around a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame beat Miami 70-63 in the quarterfinals and upset Duke 74-64 in the semifinals. The Fighting Irish are playing in a conference championship game for the first time in their history.

North Carolina leads the series 18-5 against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish won 71-70 in Chapel Hill January 5 in the only meeting this season between the teams.

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North Carolina is coached by Roy Williams. The Tar Heels have a neutral site loss to Butler in a tournament in the Bahamas, home losses to Iowa, Notre Dame, Virginia, NC State and Duke, plus road losses at Kentucky, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Duke. The Tar Heels have key wins over Davidson in Charlotte, UCLA and Florida in the Bahamas, Ohio State in Chicago,  home wins over East Carolina, UAB, William & Mary, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Syracuse, and Georgia Tech,  along with road wins over Clemson, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Boston College, Miami and Georgia Tech. North Carolina is 19-14-1 ATS and the total is 18-13-1 this season. The Tar Heels were 4.5 point underdogs against Virginia and the total was 125.5.

Notre Dame is coached by Mike Brey. The Fighting Irish have losses to Providence in Connecticut, at home against Virginia and Syracuse, and at Pittsburgh and Duke. Notre Dame has won 7 of the last 8 including 4 straight. The Fighting Irish have home wins over Michigan State, Florida State, Northern Illinois, Georgia Tech, Miami, Duke, Boston College, Wake Forest and Clemson, neutral site wins over UMass in Connecticut and Purdue in Indianapolis, plus road wins over North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, NC State, Clemson, Boston College and Louisville. The Irish are 14-11 ATS this season and the total is 12-11. Notre Dame was an 8.5 point underdog against Duke and the total was 151.5.

North Carolina is outscoring teams 78-69 this season. The Tar Heels are #18 nationally in scoring. North Carolina is shooting 47.1% from the field including 32.8% from 3 point range. UNC is #38 nationally in field goal percentage. The Tar Heels make 68.9% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 39.4% from the field and 30% from 3 point range. UNC is in the top 35 nationally in both categories. The Tar Heels average 42.2 rebounds per game and allow 29.6. UNC is #2 nationally in rebounding. The Tar Heels average 17.8 assists, 12.5 turnovers, 6.8 steals and 4.5 blocks per game. Opponents average 12.6 assists, 12.4 turnovers, 6.7 steals and 4.4 blocks per game.

UNC guard Marcus Paige averages 13.3 points, 3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Forward Kennedy Meeks averages 12.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1 assist and 1.4 blocks per game. Forward Brice Johnson averages 12.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. Justin Jackson averages 9.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. J.P. Tokoto averages 8.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Four other Tar Heels average at least 12 minutes per game. Guard Theo Pinson along with forwards Sasha Seymore and Desmond Hubert are either out indefinitely or for the season.

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Notre Dame is outscoring teams 79-65. The Fighting Irish are #14 nationally in scoring. Notre Dame is shooting  50.9% from the field and 38.9% from 3 point range.  The Irish are #2 nationally in field goal percentage and #22 in 3 point shooting. Notre dame makes 73.3% of their free throws and are #39 nationally. Opponents are shooting 42.3% from the field and 33.1% from 3 point range. The Fighting Irish average 33 rebounds per game and opponents average 30.2. Notre Dame averages 15.1 assists, 9.3 turnovers, 6.8 steals and 3.6 blocks per game. Opponents average 12.3 assists, 11.2 turnovers, 5.2 steals and 2.3 blocks per game.

Guard Jerian Grant averages 16.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Demetrius Jackson averages 12.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. Pat Connaughton averages 12.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. Zach Auguste averages 12.3 points and 6 rebounds per game. Steve Vasturia averages 9.5 points, 3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1 steal per game. V.J. Beachem and Bonzie Colson will also get time in the rotation.

North Carolina is 6-0 ATS in neutral site games, 5-1 overall and against ACC teams, and 4-9-1 against teams with winning records.

Notre Dame is 4-0 ATS overall, against ACC teams and against teams with winning records, 5-1 after a straight up win, 4-1 after a cover and in neutral site games, and 2-5 in Saturday games.

This will be a close game and should be high scoring as both teams like to run. Both teams are evenly matched, but North Carolina is playing their fourth game in four days. I think Notre dame wears them out and wins the ACC Championship.

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