As March Madness betting time approaches, the NCAA basketball season is in full swing. North Carolina at Virginia provides a peek into a Cavaliers squad that has turned into a scoring dynamo, especially on its home court.
- North Carolina at Virginia -7, Total 129, Saturday, 6 pm ET
- Action: Over 129 (BetMGM Sportsbook)
The Cavaliers have such a defensive brand that this offensive surge has caught many foes on their heels. Inside their John Paul Jones Arena, the games have hit points totals that haven’t been witnessed in many seasons. Eight of Virginia’s past 11 at home have gone Over their totals. In three of its past four on the familiar wood, it has tallied 73, 81 and 80 points.
|North Carolina||+7 (-110)||O 129 (-110)|
|Virginia||-7 (-110)||U 129 (-110)|
Twelfth-year coach Tony Bennett has released the hounds. For a wild change, Virginia’s very-deliberate offense is outshining what it’s doing at the other end. Its adjusted defensive efficiency ranks 16th in the nation, while its offensive efficiency is No. 13. That’s as unusual as the sun rising in the west.
In the Atlantic Coast Conference, Virginia is No. 2 in both 3-point shooting (40.8%) and marksmanship inside the arc (56.1%). By the way, its 39.5% touch beyond the arc on the season is top-10 in the country. And nobody in their league shoots freebies better than the Cavs’ 82.5%.
Senior forward Sam Hauser (14.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg), junior guard Kihei Clark (10 ppg, 4.6 apg) and senior center Jay Huff (13.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg) have been the dependable rudders, but newcomer Trey Murphy III (11.5 ppg), a 6-foot-9 junior guard, has been a huge addition from Rice.
Chairmen Of The Boards
The Tar Heels have been ferocious rebounders, with 6-11 freshman Day’Ron Sharpe, 6-10 sophomore Armando Bacot, 6-10 senior Garrison Brooks, 7-1 rookie Walker Kessler and 6-8 junior Leaky Black (on the defensive end) all banging and maneuvering down low to nab errant shots. They are nationally significant under the glass.
Thing is, there have been many errant basketballs to grab because the Tar Heels, on the season, have been atrocious shooters. They make 2-pointers at a 48.5% clip and threes at 32%, both at the lower end of the national totem pole. Worse, they can only 65.8% of their freebies.
Bigger Carolina-Blue Picture
They have straightened out their shots a bit lately, beating Duke by sinking 10 of 15 beyond the arc. They hit 63.6% of their 2-point attempts in another game, and 57.9% against another foe, all recently.
The Heels’ ACC footprint, though, is pathetic, and that’s the bigger picture that must be heeded here. They even shoot free throws worse in league than they did against non-conference opponents.
They do play fast, so that—and a few offensive boards—should provide extra chances and pad their points. Five of their past seven have gone Over. But that will not cut it inside John Paul Jones, as Carolina on the road against Virginia has dropped its past eight against the spread set by sports betting sites.
Keep It Simple
There is a great temptation to take Over and the Cavaliers giving the points, too, because this could be a very one-sided affair. But the overriding vision is of Virginia sustaining a double-digit lead until the end, when Carolina pops in a couple of meaningless long shots to cover the number. There is safety simply taking Over.
John Paul often gets the better of many Virginia enemies. Usually, that’s been a stifling defense. Today, mixed with such a superb offense, the Cavaliers are lethal and must be taken seriously to defend the national title it won in 2019.