Evansville Purple Aces (9-1) +30, at North Carolina Tarheels (9-0)
Dean Dome, Chapel Hill, N.C., 7:00PM Eastern, Thursday
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
The North Carolina Tarheels will try to remain perfect this Thursday night and hold off an unlikely surprising opponent in the Evansville Purple Aces. The Tarheels have been ranked a top the polls all season long and have yet to have a slip up. The Aces have made some noise early this season with a 9-1 start which equals their best start since 1998. The Tarheels have been in a league of their own this year crushing quality basketball teams. This is a David vs. Goliath type match-up with many experts thinking Evansville could keep this game closer than what many believe.
North Carolina has just been fantastic this season blowing out teams like Michigan State and Notre Dame who were both ranked in the top 12 at the time. The Tarheels beat the Irish by 15 points while demolishing the Spartans by 35 points. Hard to believe that Notre Dames 15 point loss was the best North Carolina has been challenged this season, but they are that good. North Carolina is already receiving media gossip hinting they could go undefeated considering how well they have started. A perfect season in college hoops can be considered impossible with todays wide range of talented teams and no team has accomplished that defeat since the Indiana Hoosiers back in 1976. However, the Tarheels have performed so well that they are being mentioned with the likes of these teams despite it being very early in the season.
Evansville has had an unlikely start winning 9 of their first 10 games. The Purple Aces will try to knock off the Tarheels and become the first team from the Missouri Valley Conference to beat a number 1 team in 46 years. The Purple Aces have shot fairly well this season shooting 46% from the field. One factor that could come into play is the fact that Evansville is accustomed to lower scoring games. North Carolina is one of the higher scoring teams in the land and they love to run up and down the court in a fast pace game. It will be interesting to see how the Purple Aces keep up with the fast pace offense of the Tarheels. The Purple Aces have worked the boards well this season averaging 39 rebounds per game. The Aces will need to get some 2nd chance opportunities this Thursday night and capitalize in all aspects of the game.
Bookies have opened the betting line favoring the North Carolina Tarheels by a strong 30 points even. Early betting action shows that a large portion of the betting public is siding with the Tarheels ATS. Nearly 80% of bettors right now like North Carolina over Evansville ATS. The over/under for this game has not been released and will likely not come out to right at game time. What the line will be is uncertain, but I would expect at least 160 points to be scored in this game.
North Carolina is led by two of the best players in the nation in Ty Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough. Hansbrough won the Player of the Year award last season and his ability speaks for itself. This season Hansbrough is averaging 26 points per game which ranks him 11th in college basketball. Junior Ty Lawson bypassed an opportunity last year to go to the NBA and return to North Carolina. Lawson is one of the best guards in the land averaging 16 points per game and 7 assists. North Carolina averages the 2nd highest point total per game in the nation at 97. The Tarheels have reached the 100 team total in 4 of their last 6 games and they look for their high power offense to continue to roll. The Tarheels have 6 players averaging double digits in points and their depth might be as good as any team around.
Evansville has a very high wall to climb if they want to knock off the top ranked team in the nation. The Purple Aces will absolutely have to have a huge game from the senior guard/forward Shy Ely. Ely is averaging 16 points per game this season along with 6 rebounds. Ely will need support from teammate senior guard Jason Holsinger. Holsinger is the only other player on the team averaging over 10 points with 13 points per game. The two senior will try and lead the big underdogs into a respectable game and challenge with North Carolina.
The Tarheels are 4-3 this year ATS while reaching the over in 4 of their last 6 games recorded. Evansville is 4-2 ATS this season and has also gone on the over side in 4 of their last 6 games.
Jays Pick: I think Evansville could definitely keep it in the spread.