Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#739 North Carolina (UNC) vs.
#740 Virginia
Sunday, December 8, 2019 at 4:00pm EST
Written by Benjamin Hayes



#739 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
#740 University of Virginia


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No. 7 North Carolina meets No. 5 Virginia in a major ACC battle on Sunday afternoon. However, both teams will be out of the top 10 next week since they are both coming off bad losses. The Cavs were embarrassed at Purdue, 69-40 on Wednesday, while the Tar Heels are coming off their worst home loss ever under Roy Williams in a 74-49 defeat to Ohio State on Dec. 4.

Last year, these teams played just once with Virginia winning on the road, 69-61 on Feb. 11.

Heels struggling early in the season

North Carolina basketball is not used to getting blown out anywhere, much less at home. In their loss to Ohio State at home Wednesday, they weren't just blown out at the Dean Dome-they were humiliated. They shot just 27% from the field and got outrebounded by 18. Of course, this is not the same team that lost to Auburn in the Sweet 16 last season. There's always going to be turnover in college basketball. The Heels were hurt as most elite major college basketball programs are but in some ways, they reloaded by bringing in the likes of Cole Anthony, the spectacular freshman point guard, whose father Greg Anthony, was a pretty good player himself back at UNLV.

But Anthony has had his ups and downs, including the Ohio State game, where he shot 4-of-15 from the field and 4-8 from 3-point range (15pts). He was also slowed down due to an illness. He still averages 20 points and 3.9 assists, while junior forward Garrison Brooks adds 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds. The Heels also lost talented freshman big man Armando Bacot (6-10, 232, 10.5ppg, 8.9rpg) to a sprained ankle early in the game. He'll miss this game but the injury isn't expected to cause him to miss that much time.

Bacot isn't the only injured Tar Heel big man. Sophomore Sterling Manley (6-11, 250) is also out indefinitely due to a knee injury. He played in just 14 games last season but averaged 3.9ppg and 3.8rpg.

On the season, UNC averages a lowly 71.6 points per game on 40.4% shooting (30.3% 3pt). They allow 67.1 points per game on 38.2% (33%). So this is not the fast-paced team of the past. Virginia is last in the nation in pace of play and that's to be expected at 350. UNC is around 200 at 71.3 possessions per game.

Cavs also playing shorthanded

Virginia lost most of their "key" players from last season's national title team. One of those "key" players returning was bruising 68- forward Braxton Key, who was averaging 10.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in his first six games. He's out indefinitely after undergoing wrist surgery recently.

In their 69-40 loss at Purdue, the Cavs were dominated on the boards and could have used Key. Actually, they were only outrebounded by five, but that's domination for Virginia.

“They cleaned our clock,” head coach Tony Bennett said after the game to “We didn’t control anything we had in our power to control.”

UVa shot just 37% from the field and a dismal 4-of-17 from beyond the arc against the Boilermakers. The Cavs had won their first seven games, but they had yet to score over 65 points. In their previous game against Maine, they shot just 39% from the field, but held the Black Bears to 19% shooting in a 48-26 game that sent college basketball to the pre-shot clock era. So when Purdue shot 45% from the field and 13-of-25 (52%) from beyond the arc, Virginia had zero chance. When you are averaging just 53.3 points per game on 40.2% shooting, you better hold teams to 30.9% shooting and 28% from beyond the arc.

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Full-Game Side Bet

Insiders Status:


Anthony is going to be a very good, if not great one. But he's meeting one of the best defensive programs of all time. They are coming off a bad game for them, when you give up 45% shooting from the field. That's awful for Virginia and subpar for most teams. Now the Cavs are coming off a loss, playing at home against a rival that they've beaten seven straight times. How? Because a fast-paced team doesn't want to slow it down and Virginia dictates pace. Even with Key out, they still have 6-9 forward Mamadi Diakite (13.4ppg), who can rebound and make threes. Junior Jay Huff is a 7-1 big who averages 10.4 points and seven boards. That type of size will be the difference in this one with Bacot out.

Prediction: Virginia Cavaliers

Full-Game Total Pick

Insiders Status:


How in the world do you go over with Virginia? At some point, they are going to have a total in the double digits. This is a team averaging 53.3 points per game and allowing 43.9 points. The Heels were great offensively the last few years and put up 69 and 63 the last two seasons. Before that, they tallied 43 in 2018, 43 in and 41 in 2017. Those were high powered teams and this one, is well not at the moment. Good grief, this total should end up in the 90s at best. We might be seeing something like 45-35.

Prediction: Under

Written By 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!