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Virginia vs. North Carolina Odds & Picks for Jan. 8: Why to Bet on Heels

Virginia vs. North Carolina Odds & Picks for Jan. 8: Why to Bet on Heels article feature image

Photo by Peyton Williams/UNC/Getty Images. Pictured: Armando Bacot (UNC)

  • North Carolina hosts Virginia coming off of a disappointing loss on the road to Notre Dame.
  • The Cavs haven't been themselves this season, as both their defense and offense have fallen off.
  • Kody Malstrom breaks it all down below.

Virginia vs. North Carolina Odds

Saturday, Jan. 8
1 p.m. ET
Virginia Odds
-110o / -110u
North Carolina Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Turn back the clock a few years ago, and Virginia and North Carolina were both on top of the ACC battling it out for the conference championship — along with Duke.

Flash forward to today, and you wouldn’t recognize either of these teams.

In what has potentially become a one-bid league, the ACC has taken a drastic step back in quality of play, with the upper echelon teams losing left and right. Beyond Duke, the rest of the ACC has a lot of ground to make up before March.

The style of play has remained the same for both Virginia and North Carolina, but the quality of play has been head scratching.

With both squads trying to figure it out at the start of conference play, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in this matchup.

Virginia Cavaliers

The scheme has remained the same, but the execution has fallen off of a cliff. Virginia is still one of the slowest teams in college basketball, as it facilitates until it gets the best possible shot.

While that style of play has led the Cavaliers to ACC titles, it has not been working at a championship level this year. The offense has dipped all the way to 78th in AdjO, per Kenpom.

Virginia is in the middle of the pack in field goal percentage and near dead last in 3-point percentage. If the Cavs want to win at their tempo and style of play, then the shots need to fall at a higher clip.

Virginia currently only has two players averaging double figures in scoring, with Jayden Gardner leading the team with 15.4 points per game. The Cavs have nine players logging significant minutes, with only three averaging more than seven points per night.

While the offense is as anemic as it gets, the defense has been lack luster, as well. This used to be a unit that was one of the best in basketball — now, it is only currently ranked 51st in AdjD.

While the defense has slipped, Virginia still protects the perimeter quite well. With the Cavs ranking second in the ACC in blocks per game, UNC will be hard pressed to bully them inside.

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North Carolina Tar Heels

I’m getting to the point where I think myself and four of my most athletic out of shape friends can put up a fight against this North Carolina defense, and I can barely do two down and backs.

This unit is bad, very bad.

Ranked 79th in AdjD, we once again saw the defense get lit up by a non-threatening offense in Notre Dame. In the 78-73 loss to the Irish, UNC showed no improvement in being able to stop anyone — let alone elite competition in March.

The Heels rely on their 3-point barrage, run-and-gun offense, a style that will not take you very far in tournament play. One cold shooting night can end it all.

The offense has been top notch, ranking top 20, per KenPom, in AdjO. The Tar Heels play eight men significant minutes, and five of them average double figures in scoring. UNC ranks third in points per game and second in 3-point percentage in the ACC, as of writing.

In true North Carolina fashion, the Heels also lead the ACC in rebounds per game. Crashing the boards and starting the fast break was a Roy Williams mindset.

While the style has remained the same, the defense has been taking them out of games.

Virginia vs. North Carolina Betting Pick

In a battle of two totally different tempos, it will be interesting to see how this clash plays out.

While Virginia has haunted me in recent memory, I believe North Carolina pulls this one out this time around. Virginia is just that lost right now while UNC has at least half the court figured out.

With Virginia’s offense not being able to knock down the open shot, this will give UNC plenty of chances to successfully crash the boards and start the break, putting Virginia in an uncomfortable position.

It will come down to UNC getting open looks from 3, which I believe it will have with Virginia scrambling to keep pace. The Heels also have a significant rebounding advantage to create second-shot opportunities.

Pick: North Carolina -6.5

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