College Basketball Picks: North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Kentucky Wildcats

No. 5 North Carolina Tar Heels at No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats
Saturday, 12/3/11, 12:00 PM EST, TV:  CBS
Opening Point Spread:  Kentucky -6.5
Current Betting Line:  Kentucky -6.5
Opening Total:  150.5
Current Total:  151.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Kentucky Wildcats are 63-2 SU all-time as the No. 1 team when playing at home

North Carolina is set to play the second of back-to-back games against top-10 opponents when traveling to Rupp Arena.  The Tar Heels bounced back nicely after suffering their first loss, picking up a 60-57 win over the Wisconsin Badgers as seven-point home favorites.  “I’m more motivated right now about the UNLV loss than I am about the Kentucky loss last year because this is this year’s team,” commented Tar Heels coach Roy Williams.  The team will be seeking revenge from getting bounced out of the NCAA Tournament by Kentucky last year.  North Carolina is 5-2 ATS on the road.

The Tar Heels feel behind early in last year’s 76-69 loss to the Wildcats in the final of the East Regional, but senior forward Tyler Zeller will key part of the game plan, scoring 21 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the contest.  He finished with 12 points and seven rebounds last time out against the Wisconsin Badgers.  Harrison Barnes also figures to play a big role in this contest, scoring in double figures in 21 consecutive games.

Kentucky moved its home-winning streak to 38 games in walking away with an 81-59 victory over the St. John’s Red Storm on Thursday night.  The Wildcats allowed the Red Storm to connect on just 19 of 60 shots from the field.  It’s safe to say that the entire roster is ready for this marquee matchup on Saturday.  “It’s at Rupp, so it’s not like we’re going to North Carolina last year with the crowd against us,” commented Wildcats forward Terrence Jones.  He led all scorers with 26 points and also grabbed nine rebounds in the last outing.  Kentucky is 36-17-1 ATS following a spread loss.

The Wildcats defense has been superb all season, holding opponents to less than 38 percent from the field in seven consecutive games.  Freshman forward Anthony Davis has played a major role in defending the rim, averaging 4.9 blocks per game, as he’s on pace to shatter the single-season school record in that category.  Kentucky usually wins when landing in Saturday’s situation, posting a 63-2 record at home as the No. 1 team in the country.

Bettors will likely back the Tar Heels due to their 13-2-1 ATS mark versus SEC opponents, while the Wildcats are 2-8-1 ATS when facing off versus ACC teams.

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