We are in the final week of the college basketball regular season and entering conference tournament week for the little guys. Unlike most years, the small conferences have a lot less bearing on the tournament field beyond the specific small conference participants. Very few mid-majors find themselves on the at-large bubble, making this a week of WIN OR GO HOME games for just about everyone.
It also ramps up the interest in a lot of the major conference bubble matchups this week as the competition is crowded with 25-30 teams likely vying for 10-15 slots.
It’s going to be fun! Let’s see if we can also make this week profitable. We had a nice week last week, punching in at 5-2 ATS and still punching along at 62% ATS on the season.
Today’s College Basketball Pick:
North Carolina -2.5 at Virginia Cavaliers
The train is coming through Charlottesville and the Cavaliers are standing on the tracks. North Carolina has the look of “best team in the country” lately, rolling over Louisville and Virginia and crushing opponents in their last four games. They’ve beaten their last four opponents by double digits and have won six of seven and 13 of their last 15 games.
Meanwhile, Virginia is playing basketball offensively as if their hands have been replaced by feet. They have failed to score more than 55 points in three of their last four games had dropped four in a row before their most recent win over the shell of NC State and all their drama coach-firing mess. They are 19-9 on the season, and if not for lofty reputation, they would be more in the bubble conversation than the Sweet Sixteen one (NOT saying they aren’t a tourney team – they ARE, just saying that their resume is getting a little shoddy if you take a longer look).
This line opened at -1 for Carolina and swiftly moved to -2.5 or -3. It might not be done moving, as Carolina looks like the clear play in this matchup. The Heels are a 5-3 on the road, but one loss was very early and the other was a great game at Duke. Meanwhile, Virginia is just 4-3 at home in conference play, showing far more vulnerability than we are accustomed to seeing from a Tony Bennett squad.
Lastly, just WATCH both teams play the last month. Since the Villanova loss (GREAT performance, despite losing), Virginia just isn’t very good. They need way too much offense from London Perentes, who has been a solid performer the last three years as a facilitator and floor general, but isn’t equipped to carry the offensive load. Carolina is loaded. Justin Jackson is a strong co-favorite to win ACC Player of the Year and Joel Berry has been splendid since getting healthy. North Carolina attacks the glass, scores in transition, defends with length and has diverse scoring.
I’ll take Carolina laying a few on the road and feel good even if the line moves another point or two.
Today’s Pick: North Carolina Tar Heels -2.5