NCAAM Pick December 2, 2020 – Texas Longhorns at North Carolina Tar Heels

Yesterday, the public fell in love with BYU in their matchup with the USC Trojans. Kenpom had the Trojans as -3-point favorites, and the books opened it up at USC -1-point. So right off the bat, there was already some built in value on USC. But the public got all hot and bothered by BYU in this game for some reason, and by the time they were done pounding their ignorant money after another “lock”, the Trojans were now getting +3.5-points!

When you can find a 6.5-point discrepancy between what the data is telling us and what the public has done to a betting line, you can confidently jump on the other side and collect your free cash. Gaps of two or three points are reasons to be excited, and six-and-a-half-point gap feels like when the Publishers Clearing House used to show up on people’s doorsteps with big fake checks for millions of dollars. I didn’t have an overly strong opinion on how this game would play out, with the exception of knowing that superstar USC freshman Evan Mobley was going to smash BYU big man Matt Haarams, but I did know it was a bad number, so I hammered it.

The Trojans didn’t even make me sweat this one, as they jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first half and blew out the Cougars 79-53. Evan Mobley had a great game as expected as he posted a double-double with 17 points on 8-12 shooting from the field and 11 boards. Haarms? He had just 11 points and 6 rebounds and added in 2 costly turnovers. Haarms shot just 5-13 from the field, and his inability to control the paint led to the Trojans dominating the glass with a 50-35 rebounding advantage.

I always wonder what it is about a specific team that causes the public to go crazy like they did in this one? I guess it’s like a hot stock that is shooting up, and everyone wants a piece of it before it’s too late? Once this line got moving towards BYU, it didn’t stop until tipoff. Everyone wanted action on the Cougars, and I just sat back and let the public open up outrageous value for me. We are back on the hunt for free money again today as we head to the Maui Invitational for a game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Texas Longhorns.

Today’s Game

  • Texas Longhorns (3-0) at North Carolina Tar Heels (3-0)
  • Maui Invitational, Ashville
  • 1:00 PM PST
  • TV: ESPN

The Texas Longhorns play the North Carolina Tar Heels in the semi-final round of the Maui Invitational today, with a trip to the finals on the line. The Maui Invitational feels a little different this year, as the event was moved from the sunny beaches of Hawaii to the snow-covered mountains of North Carolina. But when you look at the teams the event attracted, it’s still looking like one of the premier events of the college hoops preseason, and I am still excited that we are getting to see the games play out.

The Longhorns of Texas are ranked inside of the top-25 in both major polls, and Shaka Smart finally looks like he might have a team in Austin capable of making a deep run in March. The Longhorns are 3-0 on the season and hammered Indiana in their opening-round game last night, holding the Hoosiers to just 44-points in a blow out victory.

For North Carolina, the Tar Heels are also undefeated and ranked in both major polls. The Heels needed a second-half comeback last night to knock off a game Stanford team and advance to today’s semi-finals round. Roy William’s squad is looking to rebound after a down year last season that saw them win just 14-games.

Spread:

  • North Carolina Tar Heels (-3)
  • Texas Longhorns (+3)
Money line:

  • North Carolina Tar Heels (-160)
  • Texas Longhorns (+140)
Total Points:

  • Over 138 (-110)
  • Under 138 (-110)

Texas Longhorns (3-0)

Is this the best team that Shaka Smart has had at Texas? I think so. The Longhorns come in at 17th in the latest version of the AP Poll, but kenpom has a much higher opinion of them, ranking them at #4 right now. So, depending on which power rankings you believe, this could either be a second-weekend tournament team or maybe even a Final Four level squad.

The Longhorns have one of the top freshmen in the country in Greg Brown. Brown was a consensus five-star recruit, ranked in the top-10 nationally, is uber-athletic, and has a man’s body at 6-9 and 205 pounds. He has struggled a lot with getting into foul trouble in the early part of this season, limiting his minutes, but this kid’s talent is undeniable. If this isn’t the best team Smart has had at UT, it is certainly his most talented one, and I see big things coming for the Longhorns in the loaded Big 12.

North Carolina Tar Heels (3-0)

The Tar Heels were an unmitigated disaster last season. Cole Anthony couldn’t stay healthy, and they were so bad that Roy Williams proclaimed that it was the worst team he had ever coached. They had losses to teams like Wofford, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, and Boston College, all teams that finished the season ranked outside of the top-100 nationally. This year, Anthony is gone, but Williams welcomes in his best recruiting class ever in Chapel Hill, hoping to erase the stain from last years disappointing season.

The Heels brought in five top-100 recruits this year, and while they are very young and inexperienced, they are also very talented. It is going to take some time for North Carolina to get all of these young guns playing well together, and the strange offseason and short non-conference schedule isn’t going to help things, but by the end of the season, nobody is going to want to play this team.

Who Do I Like?

Well, once again, the public has fallen in love with a side on a game. Texas opened up as -1-point favorites, which was a reasonable number as kenpom has them winning this one by two points. But the public has been hammering UNC all morning, and now the Tar Heels are laying as many as -3.5-points! The consensus lines is floating right around North Carolina -2, but I see several -3’s and a couple of -3.5’s out there.

I guess the public hasn’t watched Texas play this year? The Longhorns have been nasty on defense, and Smart’s trademark havoc D is looking fierce. Texas currently has the second-highest-rated defense in the country in terms of defensive efficiency. Yesterday, the Heels played Stanford, another team that has a great defense, and they turned the ball over 24 times! If they do that again today against Texas, they are going to get blown out.

The Bet

I love this matchup, and I love that the public once again fell in love with the wrong side. To be able to get the Longhorns with a full possession’s worth of points shows lots of value. The Tar Heels have been way too sloppy with the basketball this year, they had 16 turnovers against a bad UNLV team as well, and I see Texas taking advantage of it, and picking up lots of turnovers that will lead to easy fastbreak points.

If this game were being held in March, and these young Tar Heels had time to mature, I might have a different opinion on this game. But right now, Texas is the side to back. I will again high five the betting public for giving me a line that I absolutely love, and fire hard on the Longhorns. Expect a lower scoring game that is won in the trenches, with Texas grinding down the Tar Heels with their pressure defense. Give me the Texas Longhorns tonight, getting +3-points as they head to the finals of the Maui Invitational!

The Bet: Texas Longhorns +3

My Pick
Texas Longhorns +3
Jason Gray / Author

Jason is a true Las Vegas insider as he has called the sports betting capital of the world his home for sixteen years. Jason started out his career in gaming by running the biggest poker tournaments in the world and managing some of the biggest sportsbooks on the strip. Jason has transitioned out of casino operations and has been covering sports betting for the sports geek for just over two years. His main focus is on baseball, college basketball, and the NFL