Virginia vs. North Carolina Pick NCAA Hoops – Feb 2nd

It was a light day of college hoops yesterday as the sportsworld wisely deferred to the Super Bowl, but there was one game of note, Michigan at Michigan State. It’s one of those games that likely frustrated many of you who had some pre-Super Bowl action on the contest, or gave you a win you didn’t really deserve. If you were on Michigan, despite another key injury and a parade of walk-ons trying to salvage a tough season at East Lansing, you handicapped the game correctly as the Wolverines played them dead even for 40 minutes. Unfortunately, they ran out of steam in overtime and ended up losing by ten. The line closed at 11, so you may not have been affected, but if you got Michigan at +10 and took a tough-luck push – I feel for you…

We closed last week with an easy winner as Baylor dispatched Texas to drop the Longhorns to a disappointing 3-5 in conference play. Let’s try to keep the easy-win mojo running this week and start off with a Monday winner.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Virginia Cavaliers at North Carolina Tar Heels (pick ‘em)

Talk about no rest for the weary. Both these teams are just a day removed from brutal, emotional losses to top-ten teams. Now, whoever can’t pick themselves up off the deck quickly will be looking at a two-game losing streak. Brutal.

So who does pick themselves up tonight? Is it the Cavaliers on the road, or the previously-surging Tar Heels on their comfortable home court where they are 9-2 this season.

Virginia lost to Duke at home. That is a fact. But the story behind that fact is that they outplayed Duke most of the game and a barrage of three-point baskets did them in at the end. The final dagger from Tyus Jones was VERY well defended by Perentes. It was just a big-time shot that found the bottom of the net. For a first-level analysis, North Carolina doesn’t have the same shooters to be able to do that to Virginia. Their only hope will be to speed the tempo, because if they let Virginia play a half court slow-down game, I’d expect Carolina to struggle to shoot 40% from the floor.

Carolina is just 1-6-1 ATS in their last eight games (brutal non-cover in OT at Louisville this weekend, ouch) despite playing pretty good hoops straight up. Meanwhile, Virginia has covered four of their last six and 6 of 10 overall.

It’s never easy playing on the road in the ACC (ask Notre Dame who got trap-game special’d at Pitt this weekend), but I still like this UVA squad. Duke beat them fair and square, but nothing I saw during that game makes me feel any vulnerability for the Cavaliers winning the ACC and securing a #1 seed in March.   Carolina has played well of late, but they just don’t have the offensive consistency or efficiency to beat Virginia. Unless Carolina can get the tempo way up, which would surprise me, I think UVA goes into Chapel Hill and beat them.

Free Pick: Virginia Cavaliers – pick ‘em

Chris Scheeren / Author