NCAA Basketball Pick: North Carolina vs. Virginia Tech
NCAA Basketball Spread: Off
North Carolina was the overwhelming favorite to cut down the nets this year in the preseason, but they have had a few missteps already this year. Last Saturday’s thrashing at the hands of Florida State left Tar Heel fans wondering what happened. Virginia Tech has a history of knocking off highly ranked teams at home. Can the Hokies pull off another upset in Blacksburg or will the Tar Heels bounce back in a big way?
Roy Williams had to be extremely upset with his team after their 90-57 loss at Florida State. The Tar Heels committed 22 turnovers and they were uncharacteristically outrebounded 41 to 33. There wasn’t any phase of the game where North Carolina was good at all. The Tar Heels shot a miserable 45% from the charity stripe. They also shot 19% from the three-point line. Kendall Marshall had seven turnovers and only six points in the loss. Harrison Barnes is averaging 16.7 points per on 44% three-point shooting on the season. Tyler Zeller and John Henson form an impressive frontcourt that generally dominates the opposition. The Tar Heels are the top ranked offensive rebounding team in the nation. North Carolina averages 85.2 points per game, which is also best in the nation.
The lack of a strong defensive presence last game against Florida State had to be extremely disappointing to Williams. Florida State knocked down 12 three-pointers and had 14 offensive rebounds in last Saturday’s game. North Carolina needs to continue to work on the defensive end if they are going to be a national title team this year.
Virginia Tech lost their primary scorer from last year when Malcolm Delaney graduated. Erick Green and Dorenzo Hudson have stepped up as the leading scorers for the team this year. Green is knocking down 40% from beyond the arc and 89% from the free throw line. The Hokies have several guys who do a great job crashing the boards, but they don’t really have a consistent scorer in the low post. Virginia Tech has gone through occasional long droughts in games where they struggle to get any set offensive going.
The strength of this Virginia Tech team is their defense. Seth Greenburg’s team does a great job getting back in transition normally, and that will be tested in big way in this game. Opponents are shooting a miserable 26% from beyond the arc. In the last eight games, no team has scored more than 63 points on the Hokies. Virginia Tech allows only 59.6 points per contest so far this year.
North Carolina should be highly motivated in this one, but Virginia Tech has held their own against them in recent meetings. Look for the Hokies to slow this one down and keep it close.
Prediction: North Carolina 69 Virginia Tech 64
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