The North Carolina Tar Heels trying to bounce back from their worst loss in years is part of an ACC dominated Thursday night in college basketball.
There are three games involving the Coaches Poll top-20 and all are from the ACC. Traditional powerhouses North Carolina and Duke have both started this year 1-2 against the spread in the conference after going 10-6 and 7-9 ATS respectively in the regular season last year.
Duke’s ATS loss this year came to upstart Virginia (1-1 ATS in the conference after 12-4 ATS last year), who is also featured in this daily preview.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons at No. 4 Duke Blue Devils – 7:00 p.m. (ET) ESPN
Wake Forest (10-7 SU, 6-7-1 ATS) has seen its offense hit the skids the last four games at 53.5 PPG. That culminated with a 76-40 home loss to NC State last Saturday. The ‘under’ is 4-0 in the Demon Deacons’ last four games and 10-3-1 on the season.
Guard C.J. Harris (17.3 PPG) and forward Travis McKie (17.1 PPG) are two solid scorers, although combining for just 12 points last game. The team does have a couple of seven-footers in Ty Walker and Carson Desrosiers who can help match up against the Plumlee brothers, but shots need to fall to keep up with the Blue Devils.
Duke (15-2 SU, 7-10 ATS) ranks second in the ACC and tied for 13th nationally in scoring offense (80.3 PPG). It’s a balanced attack with five guys averaging between 9.5 and 13.8 points per game. Freshman guard Austin Rivers is the leader.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s guys do rely on the 3-point shot with the second-most attempts in the conference (333) and first in percentage made (40.2). They shot poorly from beyond the arc (5-of-20) last Thursday at home against Virginia, a closer than expected 61-58 win as 10½-point favorites.
The Blue Devils are an incredible 12-0 SU and ATS in the last 12 games against Wake Forest at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels at Virginia Tech Hokies – 9:00 p.m. (ET) ESPN
The Tar Heels (15-3 SU, 9-8 ATS) dropped from No. 3 in the country after a 90-57 loss at Florida State last Saturday. The 33-point margin was their worst loss since 2003, before the Roy Williams’ era began.
Williams needs to get his guys focused after the embarrassing defeat. The team is oozing with talent with the frontcourt of Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller combing for 45.6 PPG and 23.7 RPG. Kendall Marshall (9.6 APG) is one of the nation’s best distributors. However, the Tar Heels are just 3-3 SU and ATS away from the Dean E. Smith Center this season.
Virginia Tech (11-6 SU, 5-7-1 ATS) is the ACC bottom dweller at 0-3 SU (0-3 ATS). The losses were to Wake Forest (58-55), Florida State (63-59) and Boston College (61-59), all as favorites. All three also went below the total, with the ‘under’ 4-0 in the Hokies’ last four.
Leading scorer Erick Green (16.1 PPG) missed last game with a knee injury, but the junior guard is probable for Thursday. He’s badly needed with the team scoring average (68.8 PPG) over 16 points less than North Carolina (85.2 PPG).
Virginia Tech is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings against North Carolina, winning the last one at home (74-70) in February 2010.
No. 17 Virginia Cavaliers at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets – 8:00 p.m. (ET)
Virginia (14-2 SU, 8-3 ATS) had a 12-game winning streak snapped last game at Duke, 61-58 last Thursday. It was exactly the kind of pace the Cavaliers wanted and they got the cover as double-digit ‘dogs. They’re now well rested for Georgia Tech.
Coach Tony Bennett has his team playing lockdown defense at 51.1 PPG, second in the country behind Wisconsin (48.5 PPG). Combine that with the 235th-ranked offense (65.2 PPG) and it makes sense the ‘under’ is 10-1 for Virginia this season.
Georgia Tech (8-9 SU, 5-7 ATS) badly limped into the conference schedule with losses to Fordham (72-66), Mercier (65-59) and Alabama (73-48). The 'Bama game was at home at Philips Arena where Thursday’s game resides.
The Yellow Jackets have been tougher in ACC play, going 2-1 ATS (1-2 SU). That includes an 82-71 road win at NC State as 10-point underdogs and keeping it close (81-74) at home against Duke as 11 ½-point ‘dogs. Leading scorer Glen Rice Jr. (13.8 PPG) averaged 25 PPG in those two games, but is way too streaky. He needs a big game here.
Virginia is 4-0 SU and ATS in the last four meetings, winning 62-56 as 5½-point ‘dogs in Atlanta last year.