North Carolina’s bid to gain an NCAA Tournament berth continues Thursday night against Virginia in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. Here, we look at betting lines and offer a pick on the contest.
The No. 7 Tar Heels advanced with an 85-61 victory over Boston College in the second round on Wednesday. UNC needs to keep stacking wins to have any chance of making another March Madness appearance. As the No. 2 seed, the Cavaliers enjoyed a double-bye and will be well rested.
North Carolina vs. Virginia Betting Lines
North Carolina Tar Heels (20-12, 11-19-2 ATS)
UNC is trying to make its way back to the NCAA Tournament after losing to Kansas in last year’s championship game. North Carolina is as talented as any other team in the ACC, which is admittedly down this season.
The Tar Heels have legitimate scorers in center Armando Bacot along with guards Caleb Love and R.J. Davis. That trio of top players returned with defensive stalwart Leaky Black to try to win a national championship. Things haven’t gone as planned, as North Carolina quickly relinquished its pre-season No. 1 ranking and dropped out of the national rankings altogether.
Bacot broke UNC’s school record for career double-doubles this season. The 6-foot-11 senior averages 16.5 ppg and an ACC-best 10.8 rebounds. North Carolina is most effective when it runs its offense through Bacot, who’ll often be double-teamed and kick the ball back out for open three-pointers.
The problem is UNC ranked last in the ACC in three-point field goal percentage at 30.9% this year. In their last meeting against Virginia, though, the Tar Heels went 10-for-22 from behind the arc (45.5%) en route to a 71-63 win at home.
Virginia Cavaliers (23-6, 10-17-2 ATS)
Virginia, as always under head coach Tony Bennett, is doing it with defense. The Cavaliers led the ACC by allowing a paltry 60.3 points per game.
Senior point guard Kihei Clark orchestrates UVA’s offense, which plays at a snail’s pace and effectively limits possessions for opponents. Virginia has three players who average double-digit points in Clark (11.1), Jayden Gardner (11.8), and Armaan Franklin (12.6). Clark, though, is the playmaker to watch. UVA’s floor general distributes the ball efficiently and leads the Cavaliers with 5.7 assists per game.
Virginia, which routinely wins games by scoring in the 60s and 50s, averages just 68 points per game. It will attempt to limit North Carolina in transition, and keep the Tar Heels from playing at their preferred up-tempo pace.
Also read: Conference Tournament Betting Trends
UNC vs. UVA Betting Analysis & Prediction
These two teams split the regular season series and both won on their home floor. Bacot left the first game a minute into it with an ankle injury. Nance was also sidelined for that contest, which Virginia won 65-58.
Bacot rolled his ankle again Wednesday night against Boston College, but returned to play in the second half and will reportedly start tonight.
Much has been made of North Carolina’s 1-9 record against Quad 1 teams, but that lone victory came against Virginia in February. If North Carolina can shoot the ball efficiently from three-point range, it has a solid shot to pull the upset here. The Tar Heels need another game effort from Nance, who was 4-for-4 from behind the arc in last month’s eight-point win against UVA.
Depending on the pundit, North Carolina either needs to make the ACC Tournament championship game — or win it — to keep its quest to make the NCAA Tournament alive. We’re betting the more desperate team wins this quarterfinal matchup with that bigger picture in mind.
Prediction: UNC 69, UVA 65
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