North Carolina vs. Virginia, 02/18/17 - Prediction & Preview

Game Snapshot

#506 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tar Heels
#505 University of Virginia Cavaliers

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Image licensed from USA Today Sports

No. 14 Virginia Cavaliers (18-7 SU, 14-9 ATS, 8-14-1 O/U) at No. 10 North Carolina Tar Heels (22-5 SU, 13-12-1 O/U)

When and Where: Saturday, Feb. 18, Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill, N.C., 8:15pmET

Line: North Carolina -3

Total: 137

No. 10 North Carolina (8 RPI) is a potential No. 1 seed although a 5-4 road record could hold them back. They are coming off a dominant performance on Wednesday, crushing NC State on the road by 24. They bounced back from an eight-point loss to rival Duke on Feb. 9 and has now won three of four games. Virginia has lost two straight, including a road loss at Virginia Tech last Sunday in overtime (80-78) and 10-point home loss to Duke on Wednesday (65-55). Virginia (15 RPI) is 8-5 in the ACC, good for sixth place to show how strong that league is. The Tar Heels lead the league with a 10-3 record, a full game ahead of Duke, Florida State and Louisville. Last season, these teams split their series with North Carolina winning in the NCAA Tournament (61-57) and Virginia winning at home (79-74).

Cavs lack offensive firepower

The Cavaliers are averaging just 68.8 points per game mainly because they are a slow tempo team. They shoot 48.7 percent from the floor, which is good for 17th in the nation and 38.9 percent from beyond the arc. However, against No. 12 Duke on Wednesday at home, the Cavs shot just 36.8 percent from the floor and 5-of-20 from beyond the arc. Some of it was Duke’s defense, but the Cavs also many point-blank shots. They led the Blue Devils 25-21 at the half but were outscored, 44-30 in the second half as Duke shot 45 percent overall and made nine 3-pointers. Point guard London Perrantes led the Cavs with 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting. Ty Jerome added 13 points off the bench on 5-of-8 shooting.

Perrantes leads the Cavs with 12.6 points per game on 39.1 percent 3-point shooting and 3.8 assists per game. He’s the only player to average in double figures on Virginia. Defensively, Virginia ranks first in the nation in points allowed per game at 55.5 and 20th in field goal percentage defense (39.6%).

Heels can go far if…..

North Carolina beat up on NC State Wednesday, holding them to 73 points. But in their last five games overall, they’ve allowed an average of 78 points per game. That’s fine if you average 80 points per game in that span, but ultimately North Carolina will need to play better defense to get back to the championship game. In their win over NC State on Wednesday, Joel Berry II led the Tar Heels with 18 points and six assists, while Kennedy Meeks added 17 points and eight boards in UNC’s 97-73 win. They Heels did play solid defense, forcing 17 turnovers and hold the Wolfpack to 44.2 percent shooting. They shot 56 percent from the floor and 7-of-23 from beyond the arc.

Forward Justin Jackson leads the Heels in scoring with 18.5 points per game on 45.9 percent shooting (38.9% 3pt). Berry II adds 15 points per game on 4.1 assists per game on 41.9 percent 3-point shooting. The Tar Heels are also dominant on the boards, leading the nation with a +13.2 rebounding margin. They average 87.7 points per game to rank sixth in the nation. They allow 72.1 points per game on 42.2 percent shooting.

College Basketball Trends:

Virginia is:

  • 25-12-1 ATS last 38 overall.
  • 7-2 ATS last 9 after a SU loss.

North Carolina is:

  • 1-4 ATS last 5 overall.
  • 1-4 ATS last 5 Saturday games.

Nobody likes to play Virginia. They slow the game down and their defense is outstanding. They are also very tough on the road. On Jan. 29, they held Villanova to just 61 points but fell by two on the road. They’ll make this another close game on the road.

Pick: Virginia

Last year, one game went over at Virginia and other game went way under from Washington D.C. in the ACC Tournament. The Cavs aren’t going to win many games by scoring in the eighties. They did put up 70 on Louisville and 71 on Virginia Tech in their first game at home against the Hokies. But both of those games went under. North Carolina is 4-1-1 Under their last six games. Virginia is 20-8-1 Under their last 29 road games.



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Benjamin Hayes

Ben has been a sports writer for over 30 years, dabbling in college and pro basketball, college and pro football, baseball, college lacrosse, minor league baseball and even college gymnastics. He's also been involved in the gaming industry for over 25 years and has been looking to beat the books since he was 13!