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North Carolina vs. Clemson Pick NCAA Basketball – January 3rd + BONUS PICK

College basketball gets back in full swing tonight with some excellent televised matchups including Texas A&M at Kentucky, Wisconsin at reeling Indiana, and North Carolina trying to shake off their stunning 12-point loss at Georgia Tech with another underrated tricky road trip to Clemson.

We took an L last night as the Little Rock Trojans got ambushed right out of the gate and could never make up the difference.  It looks like last year’s magic is over for Little Rock who has now suffered back to back double digit home losses to Oral Roberts and Louisiana Lafayette.

We will try to get back on track tonight with a pick from the ACC, a conference that boasts a dozen teams with legit NCAA dreams after a chaotic opening week that saw it’s presumed Top Four teams ALL take a loss.

Let’s dive in with today’s free pick.

Today’s Free Pick:

North Carolina Tar Heels -2.5 at Clemson Tigers

The Tar Heels lost a stunner in the opener, getting beat straight up at Georgia Tech despite being as high as a 17-point favorite in some sportsbooks.  The twenty-nine point negative ATS margin was one of the largest in the sport this season, so if the Heels and Roy Willams needed a wake-up call, I’d say the Ramblin’ Wreck certainly provided it.

So how do they respond tonight?

Clemson is a good squad.  They enter at 11-2 with a respectable loss to Xavier on a neutral floor and a follow up loss to Oklahoma that looks worse and worse as time progresses.  However, since that Thanksgiving Tournament disappointment, they have reeled off nine straight wins including a win over Nebraska that continues to look BETTER, and wins over Alabama, South Carolina and Wake Forest.

Those wins are nice, but they have been very narrow wins with the exception of Bama, and it is certainly fair to say that North Carolina represents a significant increase in level of competition.

And then there is the nagging fact that the Heels lost in embarrassing fashion.  It is tough to see Roy Williams’s troops losing a second straight game to an unranked team to start the season, so expect a fierce effort tonight.  Justin Jackson has been splendid this season, but was awful in the GA Tech loss.  I expect him to bounce back in a major way tonight.  Likewise for the rest of his teammates.  North Carolina has a lot more talent than Clemson, even with Jaron Blossomgame’s somewhat surprising return after flirting with the NBA Draft.

I like Carolina to play closer to their ability tonight and to get a nice road win over a good, but not great, Clemson team.

Free Pick:  North Carolina Tar Heels -2.5

 

BONUS PICK:

Boston College Eagles at Wake Forest Demon Deacons -14.5

This line was too good to ignore.  Apparently the blowout win over Syracuse wasn’t enough to earn the Eagles a little respect in Vegas.  Neither were the wins over Auburn and Providence.  I think at this point it is worth recognizing that BC is a competitive team at the very least.

And it ain’t like Wake is Duke now, right?

The Deac’s are 9-5, and while all their losses are to teams with tourney dreams (Nova, X and FSU’s being obvious, Clemson and Northwestern a little more tenuous), there are still five losses with the best wins to offset them being LSU and Charleston.

Fourteen is just way too many points tonight.

Free Pick:  Boston College Eagles +14.5