ACC College Basketball Betting Preview: #2 North Carolina Tar Heels at #16 Louisville Cardinals

#2 North Carolina Tar Heels at #16 Louisville Cardinals
Monday, February 1, 2016, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
KFC Yum! Center – Louisville, Kentucky
Opening Line: Louisville -1
Current Line: Louisville -1
Opening Total: 151
Current Total: 148 1/2
Opening Money Line: Louisville -125 / North Carolina +105
Current Money Line: Louisville -115 / North Carolina -105

Big South Tournament
Louisville is a slight favorite at home against North Carolina in a key ACC contest Monday.

The 19-2 North Carolina Tar Heels have won 12 straight games and are #2 in the AP poll and #1 in the coaches’ poll. However, the Tar Heels have not played one team in the top 25 in that winning streak. That changes as they travel to the 17-4 Louisville Cardinals Monday night. The Cardinals are #16 in the AP poll. North Carolina leads the ACC at 8-0 and Louisville is alone in second at 6-2 by a half game over a quartet of 6-3 teams.

North Carolina leads the series 11-4 against Louisville, and the series dates back to 1929. The Cardinals won two of three meetings last year as Louisville joined the ACC. The Tar Heels won 72-71 in Chapel Hill. Louisville won 78-68 at home and 70-60 in the rubber match in the ACC quarterfinals in Greensboro, NC. Louisville is 3-0 all-time at home against UNC.

North Carolina is coached by Roy Williams. The Tar Heels have road losses at Northern Iowa and Texas. North Carolina has neutral site wins over Temple in Annapolis, Northwestern and Kansas State in Kansas City, and UCLA in Brooklyn. UNC has home wins over Fairfield, Wofford, Maryland, Davidson, Tulane, Appalachian State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, and Boston College 89-62 Saturday. The Tar Heels have road wins at Florida State, Syracuse and Virginia Tech. UNC is 9-11-1 ATS and the total is 14-7 this season. The Tar Heels were 26.5 point favorites against Boston College and the total was 146.

Louisville is coached by Rick Pitino. The Cardinals have road losses at Michigan State, Kentucky and Clemson. Louisville had won 4 straight games before getting beat 63-47 Saturday at home. The Cardinals have a neutral site win over Saint Louis in Brooklyn, plus road wins at North Carolina State, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech 91-83 Wednesday. Louisville has home wins over Eastern Michigan, Western Kentucky, Wake Forest, Pitt and Florida State.  Louisville was a 5.5 point favorite against Virginia and the total was 129. The Cardinals are 8-9 ATS and the total is 8-8-1 ATS this season.

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North Carolina is outscoring teams 86-70 this season. The Tar Heels are #4 in scoring nationally. North Carolina is shooting 48.5% from the field and 30.8% from 3 point range. The Tar Heels are #20 in field goal percentage but #318 in three point shooting nationally. UNC makes 72.7% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 42% from the field and 37.2% from 3 point range. UNC averages 41.5 rebounds per game and opponents average 28.4 per game. The Tar Heels are #23 or better in both categories. North Carolina averages 18.8 assists, 10.5 turnovers, 7.5 steals and 4.5 blocks per game. Opponents average 11.9 points, 14.3 turnovers, 5.5 steals and 3 blocks per game.

Brice Johnson averages 16.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. Marcus Paige averages 12.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.3 assists per game. Joel Berry II averages 12.6 points, 3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.6 steals. Kennedy Meeks averages 11.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. Justin Jackson averages 11.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Isaiah Hicks averages 9.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Nate Britt, Theo Pinson and Joel James also get time in the rotation. James is questionable with an Achilles’ injury.

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Louisville is outscoring teams 81-60 this season. The Cardinals are #5 in points allowed and #32 in scoring nationally. Louisville is shooting 49.1% from the field and 36.8% from 3 point range. The Cardinals make 68.5% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 36.9% from the field and 30.5% from 3 point range. The Cardinals are #3 nationally in field goal defense and #26 in three point defense. Louisville averages 41.4 rebounds per game and opponents average 28.7 per game. The Cardinals are #33 or better in both categories nationally. Louisville averages 11.9 assists, 12.6 turnovers, 6 steals and 5 blocks per game. Opponents average 9.9 assists, 12.7 turnovers, 5.1 steals and 3.9 blocks per game.

Damion Lee averages 17.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Trey Lewis averages 12.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists. Chinanu Onuaku averages 10.6 points, 9 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 2 blocks per game. He is probable with an illness.  Quentin Snider averages 9.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. Donovon Mitchell averages 7.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Mangok Mathiang averages 6.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. He is out until early February with a foot injury. Jaylen Johnson, Raymond Spalding and Anas Mahmoud will also get time in the rotation.

North Carolina is 2-5 ATS against teams with winning records and 1-4 after a cover.

Louisville is 3-0-1 ATS after scoring less than 50 points, 4-1 after a double digit home loss, 18-7-1 in Monday games, 2-6 against ACC teams, 2-7 against teams with winning records, 2-8 overall, and 1-6 after failing to cover.

Both Williams and Pitino are Hall of Fame coaches. Louisville is tough at home, but North Carolina has a better team. I don’t know if Louisville can slow down UNC on offense. I like the tar heels to win convincingly on the road.

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