There are only three days separating us from Selection Sunday, yet Thursday’s conference tournament schedule still provides plenty of intriguing games. Let’s break down my college basketball best bets for No. 25 North Carolina against Virginia in the ACC tournament quarterfinals.
Click on the odds below to place a bet, and continue the discussion in our Discord betting community, as we dissect the biggest games of the day. Stay up-to-date on the top-68 programs with my college basketball power rankings.
North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Virginia Cavaliers
Hubert Davis’ team is coming off a 13-point win at Duke while winning 11 of its last 13 games overall. But that’s created some market value with the Cavaliers after this spread was driven up from the opener (-3.5).
- All of Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets
Buy Low On Virginia’s Offense?
The Cavaliers mustered just 0.86 points per possession in their first-round victory over the Cardinals on Wednesday. Considering their methodical pace, they can’t afford another poor performance — especially with their NCAA tournament odds on the line.
Nevertheless, Tony Bennett’s squad also faced Louisville on Saturday, giving its opponent an opportunity to adjust within a four-day span. I’m willing to give the ‘Hoos a bit of a pass.
Enter the Tar Heels, outperforming their shooting metrics by four wins (via ShotQuality) because of their inconsistent defense. Although their efficiency has picked up during their recent five-game winning streak, their off-ball coverage is still a glaring weakness.
As I mentioned in my latest conference tournament futures guide, Bennett’s mover-blocker motion scheme is predicated around finding open gaps without the ball. Hence, it should expose North Carolina’s deficiency.
But as effective as Kihei Clark & Co. are slipping off screens for their mid-range jumpers, they’ll have to space out the Tar Heels’ defense too.
While UNC surrenders the 94th-highest perimeter scoring rate across Division I, UVA owns a 32.1% 3-point clip in ACC play. Clark, Armaan Franklin and Reece Beekman are all 3-point threats, yet they’ll need some positive shooting luck after going 0-of-6 from deep against Louisville.
Limiting Tar Heels’ Transition Opportunities
Not only will Virginia’s offense require an efficient performance to hinder North Carolina’s fast-break offense, but it also relies on its pack-line defense, which must be set in the halfcourt to function.
If the Tar Heels dominate on the go — similar to their 74-58 win over the ‘Hoos on Jan. 8 — Bennett’s preferred tempo won’t be able to maintain itself. UNC’s options are endless via Armando Bacot inside and Brady Manek & Co. around the arc.
Still, UVA’s scheme limits dribble penetration when it’s in position, and Davis’ bunch is reliant on earning trips to the line as a result of attacking the paint. Keep in mind, the Cavaliers are allowing the 50th-lowest free-throw rate in the country.
In another plug-your-nose special, back the ‘Hoos to hang within two possessions. We’ll likely get a motivated effort throughout — with their at-large hopes already toast — and there’s always a chance for a Tar Heels letdown.
Best Available Line: Virginia
Eli’s College Basketball Best Bet: