North Carolina vs. Virginia College Basketball Odds & Pick: Tall Task for Tar Heels in Charlottesville

Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Trey Murphy III

North Carolina vs. Virginia Odds

North Carolina Odds +6.5
Virginia Odds -6.5
Moneyline +240 / -300
Over/Under 129.5 (-115/-105)
Time | TV Saturday, 6 p.m. ET | ESPN
Odds as of Friday night and via BetMGM.

We have a good one in prime time on Saturday when Virginia and North Carolina go head-to-head in Charlottesville. It’s been a down year overall for the ACC, but there are still a few legit Final Four contenders at the top of the standings in Florida State and current first-place Virginia. As of right now, the Hoos project as a two or three seed. Could they get a No. 1 seed, which would guarantee you from avoiding Gonzaga and Baylor until at least the Final Four? It’s possible, but they will need to go on a big run to close the year.

North Carolina sits in the second tier of the ACC among teams that have some flaws but will still likely make the dance. As of right now, UNC projects somewhere in the neighborhood of a 10 seed. An upset win over Virginia would pretty much lock up a tourney bid and obviously help with seeding.

Let’s take a closer look at this matchup and look at my target ranges for betting both the side and total.

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It’s Just a Bad Matchup for UNC

Virginia has owned this series of late, winning six straight over the past four seasons with only two of the six going over Saturday’s total.

Why? Well, its just a terrible schematic matchup for UNC. The Heels generally want to get out in transition and dominate the offensive glass in the half court. Virginia completely takes away both with its philosophy on both ends. For example, this year, the Cavaliers rank 11th in defensive rebounding rate and have allowed opponents to get out in transition at the fifth-lowest rate in the country, per Synergy.

The good news for Roy Williams is UNC has actually been quite poor when in transition offensively and defensively. They won’t have to worry about either much at all on Saturday.

The bad news is UNC’s offense has only been above average in terms of points per possession in post-ups and on offensive put-backs. It wants to run everything through its bigs in Armando Bacot, Garrison Brooks and uber-talented freshman Day’Ron Sharpe. Unfortunately for the Heels, Virginia’s pack-line defense does a tremendous job of containing both.

The Tar Heels will have to make jumpers, and that’s not something they excel at doing. On the season, UNC is shooting just 32% from three, which ranks 247th in the nation. They’re just not a very good shooting team outside of freshman Kerwin Walton, who will likely need to get red hot from distance if UNC wants to pull this off.

Overall, the Virginia defense isn’t as elite as we’ve seen when it finished in the top-10 in adjusted defensive efficiency in each of the last seven years, per KenPom. It’s still very good, sitting at 15th overall right now, but there are a few holes on the perimeter. I’m just not sure UNC has the personnel to exploit those holes with their cast of super young freshman guards and an offense that shoots three-pointers at the ninth-lowest rate in D-1.

While the defense has taken a slight step back, the offense has made up for it. The Hoos currently rank 13th in offensive adjusted efficiency and pretty much do everything well except for offensive rebound (which is by design). They don’t turn it over, rank 15th nationally in 2P% and eighth in 3P% — the latter could be especially problematic for a Roy Williams defense that encourages opponents to shoot threes.

UVA is shooting 40.8% from 3 in league play. It will be going up against a UNC defense that is allowing conferences foes to connect on 38.4% of 3P attempts. That’s not an ideal combo.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

This is just a tall order for a UNC team that is one of the youngest in the nation. Also, keep in mind that Virginia ranks second in the country in free throw shooting percentage, which could play a major role in determining the cover if this game is relatively close at the end.

Based on my power ratings and adjusting for the matchup, I make this line a touch over 7, so I’d be interested in betting Virginia if this line ever gets to -5.5. In regards to the total, unless we see extreme hot shooting, I’d lean under here, especially if we see a 130 or higher. Yes, UNC could go bonkers from three, but that’s unlikely. Virginia could light it up from deep, but the UNC defense has been very good in all other phases. And I’m just not sure where the UNC offense is going to come from on a consistent basis. Yes, UNC plays at a top-75 Adjusted Tempo, but Virginia is dead last.

Pick: Virginia -5 or better, Under 130 or better


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