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A battle between two top-10 ranked ACC programs will make Monday night basketball better than even a Monday night football game, as showdowns like this, at least, relieve some of the pain from watching the NFL season end the way it did.
The #3 Virginia Cavaliers (20-2 / 8.2 ACC) and the #8 North Carolina Tarheels (19-4 / 9-1 ACC) highlight a relatively quiet night of hoops around the country, when this monster ACC battle tips off a 7 p.m. ET in the Dean Dome.
With this being the only meeting between the teams in ACC play, this really raises the stakes for this game should the two end the regular season tied atop the standings come the ACC Tournament.
The Cavaliers arrive to Chapel Hill as opening line favorites by a single point, as the line setters are certainly expecting a tight one with so much on the line.
Cavs Reaching To Take #1 Seed Towards ACC Tourney
The Cavaliers have lost 2 ACC games this year, and both of those losses have come by the hands of the Duke Blue Devils, who are also going to have a stake towards who takes the #1 seed in the ACC Tournament.
— Virginia Men's Basketball (@UVAMensHoops) February 10, 2019
Duke and North Carolina sit at 9-1 in ACC play, and Virginia is certainly seeing this as the biggest must-win of the year with those two losses to Duke looming large.
The Cavs had their chances to take out Duke and avoid the sweep just 2 days ago, although the Blue Devils came away with an 81 – 71 win which really throws a big wrench in the odds of grabbing the #1 seed, I think we all know that Virginia is almost assured to end to up as a high-seed in the big dance no matter the result of this contest, albeit this game will still hold its weight.
Being favored in Chapel Hill might come a bit of a surprise, although it could have to do with the Heels struggling with Miami last time out in their overtime win against the struggling Canes.
Duke basically led the entire game against the Cavs this past Saturday, and despite pulling the lead within 5 points in the 2nd half, the Blue Devils basically led by 8 – 10 points most of the second stanza, en route the 10-point decision.
How about all that solid bench production from those two on the night? I mean I find it amazing that Duke and Virginia are among the best teams in all the land, and yet there is zero production from either bench to even bother mentioning.
Duke’s bench? 2 guys.. 2 points.. that wraps that up.
Cavs Bench? 3 guys.. 15 points (At least).. and one of them found 10 rebounds and 4 points, as junior guard Braxton Key gets to have his name mentioned in a preview instead of all of the big names all the time. Amazingly, Key averages 7 points a game, but he has only had 4 double-digit outings all season, but goodness can he find his way around the glass. His 6-8 frame makes it easy to stay down low on missed shots when he comes off the bench, although he can see most of the time off the pine under head coach Tony Bennett.
Cavs leading scorer Kyle Guy found his way to 16 points in the loss, as he tied with the team lead on the night with Ty Jerome who also claimed 16 points. Both Guy and Jerome make up 2 of Virginia’s 3 players who average double-digits this season, joined by De’Andre Hunter who brings in 14.5 PPG in his sophomore campaign,
Keep an eye out for the possibility that junior forward Mamadi Diakite could be absent tonight for the Cavs, which would take the teams 4th leading scorer off the board, as well as thin down an already light bench.
Heels Looking To Build On 7 Straight ACC Wins
While the Cavs have only struggled with Duke the entire season, the Heels haven’t had to deal with the Blue Devils as of yet, as they will have two MONSTER meetings coming as the regular season unwinds. (Clear your schedule for Feb 20 and Mar 9 for those two nights of rivalry basketball at its finest)
— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) February 10, 2019
Until we get there, this game is naturally expecting to be one to not even think about missing if you have anything invested in this year’s college hoops season.
If we consider the ACC the best conference in the land, well, we get to see 2 of the best 3 teams in the conference go at it tonight in Chapel Hill, and I dare someone to go over to the Heels locker room and tell them they are DOGS tonight in their house!
I DARE YA!
That will almost assuredly throw another log on the fire to heat up this intense of a game with so much riding on the stakes of the outcome tonight.
This is the Heels only chance to be able to say they took down both Virginia and Duke (Should they get one of those Ws, of course), and a win here and a split with Duke could almost clinch the #1 seed for the Heels should they take care of their other business.
While the landscape of college hoops is surrounded by so many freshman stars, the Heels have their own young stud in leading scorer Coby White, who is taking in 15.9 PPG in his first year with head coach Roy Williams. White can take a large part of the responsibility for the win over Miami last time out, as his 33 points in the 88 – 85 overtime win sure came in handy.
White shot 7 of 10 from behind the arc alone, and ended the night 11 of 16 from the floor with 4 free throws drained as well. If a big shot was needed this past Saturday, #3 in blue and white was hitting the shot.
Senior forward Luke May came away with a 20-point effort, which followed up his 31-point night against another rival, N.C State, the game previous. May and senior Cameron Johnson each put up over 15 PPG, as does White completing a trio of players averaging at least 15 points a night this season.
• Tar Heels are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
• Tar Heels are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
• Over is 4-1 in Tar Heels last 5 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
• Virginia is 0-3 Last 3 ATS vs ACC.
• Over is 4-3 in Virginia Last 7 games overall.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I got the Heels at home, and that is that!
Diakite being possibly absent factors in because Tony Bennett has NO ONE to look down that bench to find to replace him. NO ONE!
To thin for my tastes, in a game like this that will test the Cavs inside, I see the Heels finding a way to victory.
Heels +1 is the 3* Play on the Side.
Prediction: North Carolina +1
Full-Game Total Pick
And while the Heels go on to victory, they will also do what Duke just did to them and bust out for 80+ at home.
83 – 74 Heels at home, as both of these offenses are certainly worth watching, and I am well aware of what the Cavs defense is all about, noted and taken into consideration.
The Over 143 is the 3* Play on the Total.
Prediction: Over 143