ACC College Basketball Betting Preview: #7 North Carolina Tar Heels at #3 Virginia Cavaliers

#7 North Carolina Tar Heels at #3 Virginia Cavaliers
Saturday, February 27, 2016, 6:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
John Paul Jones Arena – Charlottesville, Virginia
Opening Line: Virginia -3 1/2
Current Line: Virginia -3
Opening Total: 139
Current Total: 137
Opening Money Line: Virginia -170 / UNC +150
Current Money Line: Virginia -155 / UNC +135

America East Tournament Preview
North Carolina travels to Virginia in a battle of tACC teams.

Six teams are within two games of each other for the ACC regular season title. Two of those teams meet Saturday as the 23-5 North Carolina Tar Heels travel to the 21-6 Virginia Cavaliers. North Carolina leads the conference by a game at 12-3 over 11-4 Miami and Louisville. Virginia is tied for third at 10-5 with Duke and Notre Dame. Both North Carolina and Virginia are also battling for a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament next month.

This series dates back to 1910 with North Carolina leading 129-52, including 44-32 in Charlottesville. North Carolina won the last meeting 71-67 in the ACC semifinals last season in Greensboro, NC. This is the only regular season meeting and Virginia has won the last two in the regular season.

North Carolina is coached by Roy Williams. The Tar Heels have road losses at Northern Iowa, Texas, Louisville and Notre Dame, plus a home loss to Duke. 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, Boston College, Pittsburgh and Miami. The Tar Heels have road wins at Florida State, Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Boston College and North Carolina State 80-68 Wednesday night. UNC is 12-15-1 ATS and the total is 15-13 this season. The Tar Heels were 8 point favorites against North Carolina State and the total was 154.5.

Virginia is coached by Tony Bennett. The Cavaliers have road losses at George Washington, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Duke and Miami 64-61 Monday night. All losses are by 7 points or less. Virginia has lost two of their last three games after a seven game winning streak. The Cavaliers have neutral site wins over Bradley, Long Beach State and George Mason in a tournament in Charleston, South Carolina, plus West Virginia in New York. Virginia has home wins over Lehigh, William & Mary, Villanova, California, Oakland, Notre Dame, Miami, Clemson, Syracuse, Boston College Virginia Tech and North Carolina State. The Cavaliers also have road wins over Ohio State, Wake Forest, Louisville and Pittsburgh. Virginia is 12-13 ATS and the total is 10-15 this season. The Cavaliers were 1.5 point underdogs against Miami and the total was 128.

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North Carolina is outscoring teams 84-70 this season. The Tar Heels are #10 in scoring nationally. North Carolina is shooting 48.3% from the field and 31.4% from 3 point range. The Tar Heels are #21 in field goal percentage but #303 in three point shooting nationally. UNC makes 73.7% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 41.4% from the field and 36.3% from 3 point range. UNC averages 40.9 rebounds per game and opponents average 29.4 per game. The Tar Heels are #17 in rebounding nationally. North Carolina averages 18.5 assists, 10.8 turnovers, 6.9 steals and 4.6 blocks per game. Opponents average 11.4 points, 13.5 turnovers, 5.6 steals and 3.1 blocks per game.

Brice Johnson averages 17 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. Justin Jackson averages 12.4 points, 4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Marcus Paige averages 12.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.2 assists per game. Joel Berry II averages 11.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 3.9 steals. Kennedy Meeks averages 10 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.5 blocks per game.  Isaiah Hicks averages 9.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Nate Britt, Theo Pinson and Joel James also get time in the rotation.

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Virginia is outscoring teams 71-60 this season. The Cavaliers are #3 nationally in points allowed. Virginia is shooting 49.3% from the field and 40.1% from three point range. The Cavaliers make 75.2% of their free throws. Virginia is in the top 20 nationally in all three shooting categories. Opponents are shooting 41.8% from the field and 34.9% from 3 point range. Virginia averages 31.9 rebounds per game and opponents average 25.8 per game. The Cavaliers are #1 nationally in rebounds allowed but #326 in rebounding. Virginia averages 14.7 assists, 9.4 rebounds, 5.5 steals and 3 blocks per game. Opponents average 9.8 assists, 12.1 turnovers, 5.1 steals and 2.2 blocks per game.

Malcolm Brogdon averages 18.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists. Anthony Gill averages 13.6 points and 6 rebounds per game. London Parrantes averages 11.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Mike Tobey averages 7 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. Darius Thompson averages 4.9 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1 steal a game. Devon Hall, Isaiah Wilkins, and Marial Shayock will also get time in the rotation. Wilkins (concussion) and Evan Wilkes (foot) are both questionable.

North Carolina is 2-6 ATS after a cover and 1-4 in road games. The last four games in this series overall have gone over the total, but the under is 6-2 in Charlottesville between the teams.

Virginia is 5-1 ATS against teams with winning records, 4-1 overall, against ACC teams, and against teams with winning road records, 9-3 after a straight up loss, 37-14-2 in Saturday games and 21-10-2 after failing to cover. The favorite is 4-1 ATS in this series recently. The home team is 6-2 ATS recently. The Cavaliers have covered 7 of the last 10 games against the Tar Heels, including 4-1 at home.

North Carolina has won 4 of the last five games. Both of these teams are national title contenders but like all the top contenders this wild season have their weaknesses. This will be a battle of North Carolina’s offense and Virginia’s top tier defense. I like the Cavaliers to win a close game at home.

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