The North Carolina Tar Heels will finally be out on the floor after beating the Duke Blue Devils a week ago. They were scheduled to play Miami, though that game was cancelled after footage of the team partying following the win over Duke emerged. As a result of Covid-19 protocols, the game was called and North Carolina was unable to ride that momentum against the Hurricanes. I don’t know if the Tar Heels were going to be up for that game following the effort over their rivals, a 91-87 win on the road.
I find it hard to believe that North Carolina was going to be fully focused for that game, so they may have dodged a loss there. North Carolina will play their fourth straight game this evening on the road at Virginia. They’ll take a split with a loss and three wins in four games with a win. The Tar Heels have a 75-65 win over Pitt, loss against Clemson, 63-50, and the big win over Duke that was just noted above. That was the first time Duke and North Carolina met both unranked in 61 years. Overall, North Carolina goes into Saturday with a record of 12-6.
North Carolina is still unranked following their win over Duke, though it’s not going to move the meter much. Duke continues to be overvalued by oddsmakers. They just aren’t a very good team in 2020-21. The Blue Devils have to go back to the drawing board in the offseason and think about the future. Prior to losing to North Carolina, Duke lost against Miami 77-75, and following the win, dropped another, this time against Notre Dame by a score of 93-89.
Where I’m going with this is was it really worth partying over beating Duke this season? I know it’s a rival and they’re college kids, but this is North Carolina. This is a program that prided itself on championships and deep tournament runs in March, not celebrating a win against a weak opponent in the regular season. On the positive side, they had a week to nurse their hangovers from partying before their meeting against Virginia for this contest. The Tar Heels are going to find a much more aggressive defense in Virginia tonight against the Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers are ranked No. 9 in the NCAA as a result of their relentless defensive pressure. Not much has changed over the last ten years regarding this team. Tony Bennett has stressed defense since being hired in 2009. It took five years to get Virginia to the Sweet Sixteen, and less than ten years to win a National Championship in 2018-19. The 2020-21 roster isn’t nearly as talented, but the defensive talent still exists. The Tar Heels better be prepared to grind. Head below for our free North Carolina vs. Virginia pick on February 13, 2021.
North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Virginia Cavaliers NCAA Betting Odds:
North Carolina vs. Virginia Prediction:
North Carolina has another thing coming if they think going into John Paul Jones Arena is going to be the same as at Cameron Indoor. The Tar Heels were able to slice through the paper thin Duke defense for 91 points. That’s not going to happen on Saturday against the Cavaliers. As impressed as I’d be if North Carolina scores over 90 points on Virginia in this one, it’s highly unlikely against a physical Virginia defense. They don’t stop pressuring and looking to find turnovers or making it tough on shooters.
If a player isn’t aggressive defensively, Tony Bennett will likely sit him on the bench for somebody who will. The Cavaliers are sixth in the NCAA with an average of just 59.4 points conceded per game. Gonzaga is the only team to score more than 70 points against the Cavaliers this season. And despite giving up 98 points against the Bulldogs at home, Virginia has allowed only 58.8 points per game on campus.
The Cavaliers enter Saturday on a three-game winning streak, with wins over NC State, 64-57, Pittsburgh, 73-66, and Georgia Tech, 57-49. That was an impressive defensive display against a fairly good Yellow Jackets’ offense on Wednesday in Atlanta. Georgia Tech has averaged over 70 points per game this season, but the Cavaliers were able to render them useless. The Yellow Jackets can’t feel that bad. They aren’t the first and certainly won’t be the last this season who have problems cracking the Virginia defense.
The Tar Heels’ have been okay offensively this season. They’ve been on and off with an average of 74.1 points per game for 122nd in the NCAA. That’s fine, but I don’t believe they are going to find much room to be productive in this one Saturday. North Carolina has scored 54.1 points a game against Virginia in their last six meetings. They might be able to catch the Cavaliers shooting poorly, though the Tar Heels have been beatable defensively, especially on the road allowing 75.8 points per game. After an emotional win over Duke, I don’t see UNC ready to battle against this Virginia defense. I see Virginia grinding away for a 70-61 win to cover.