Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#815 North Carolina (UNC) vs.
#816 Virginia
Sunday, December 8, 2019 at 4:00pm EST
Written by Sporty Jordy

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#815 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
#816 University of Virginia
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This article covers a past game!

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When and where: December 8, 2019, John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA, 4:00 PM ET

The No. 5-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels are desperate for a bounce-back win in Sunday’s run-in with the No. 7-ranked Virginia Cavaliers. North Carolina has lost two of their last three games to Michigan and Ohio State. The 74-49 drubbing they took at the hands of the Buckeyes was especially an eye-opening sort of defeat. No one understands that better than Virginia after they were blown out in a 69-40 loss to Purdue.

North Carolina gets crushed by Ohio State

The Tar Heels made history for all of the wrong reasons in Wednesday’s home loss to the Virginia Cavaliers. They were held to a 27.4 field goal shooting percentage and 49 points in what ended up being the worst home loss since Matt Doherty was the head coach.

Ouch.

Roy Williams might have wished Doherty was still the head coach for at least that one night. The Tar Heels got punched in the mouth and had no answers. We’ll see if they can muster a better response against another ranked opponent in Virginia.

They can start by playing better in the second half. There is no doubt Williams has been drilling 40 minutes of basketball into the team every day in preparation for Sunday. Buckets aren’t going to be easy to come by on the road against the second-best defense in the nation. Virginia leads the country in opponent average shooting percentage (30.9). The Tar Heels rank in the bottom half of the nation in shooting percentage, even though they have four viable scorers in Cole Anthony, Garrison Brooks, Brandon Robinson and Armando Bacot.

Things haven’t been much better on the defensive end of the floor, where they rank 80th in efficiency. It didn’t help matters against Ohio State when the Tar Heels lost Bacot early in the game to an ankle injury, but the team clearly needs more than one player to fix their problems of youth and inexperience.

Scoring is a serious issue for Virginia

Virginia was bound to dig too deep of hole sooner or later.

Their lack of offense has been clearly overlooked due to their ability to lock down on defense. They typically win ugly games, and people chalk the victories up as acceptable with little criticism. It’s a luxury afforded to the defending national champions. But Wednesday’s lopsided loss to the Boilermakers was a wake-up call. It’s hard to envision the Cavaliers repeating if they can’t improve on the offensive end of the floor.

North Carolina is hoping those struggles continue when the two teams clash on Sunday. Virginia has the fourth-worst scoring offense in the nation. They are mentioned among teams like Kennesaw State, Maryland ES and Ark Pine Bluff when it comes to their 53.2 average points per game. North Carolina hasn’t been anything special on defense, but the Cavaliers could make that look like the case with bad offensive play.

The team needs more than Mamadi Diakite and Jay Huff to get their offense going.

There is no concern regarding their second-ranked defense. North Carolina didn’t look good against Ohio State and Michigan, setting the stage for a potential nightmarish outing against Virginia’s dominant defense.

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The Tar Heels are going to feel the wrath of Virginia’s defense after Purdue made them look human. In a game where both teams obviously need a win just as badly, I have more faith in the Cavaliers than a Tar Heels team still searching for an identity.

At least the Cavaliers know what they are.

They’re a gritty team heavily-dependent on their dominant defensive play to carry them to victory. The Tar Heels look like a team in flux after losing Coby White and Cam Johnson. They’ll struggle to get their offense going against arguably the best defensive team in the nation.

The game taking place at James Paul Arena doesn’t help matters, either. It would take a really special North Carolina team to go on the road and silence the defending champion Cavaliers. The Tar Heels have shot nearly as bad as the Cavaliers this season, and they lack the defense on the other end of the floor scare anyone.

I’m laying the points and taking the Cavaliers to add to the Tar Heels’ misery.

Prediction: Virginia Cavaliers (-4.5)

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I’m expecting both North Carolina and Virginia to come out with some pride on Sunday. The Tar Heels have lost two of their last three games, and they’ll be looking to respond after getting completely dominated by Ohio State. The same can be said about the Cavaliers after their ugly loss to Purdue. Both teams will be eager to prove a point in this game.

I’m not expecting them to run up the scoreboard, but they’ll both combine for enough offense to at least make the over the winning bet. Even if the Tar Heels do lose, this game could serve as a turning point in the confidence of a talented young player like Anthony. I’m taking the over betting total here.

Prediction: Over (116)
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Sporty Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys and all the Sun Drop you can drink.