Florida St. Seminoles (17-12) +16.5, o/u 157 @ North Carolina Tar Heels (27-2), -16.5, o/u 157, Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC, 8 p.m. Eastern, Tuesday
by Oracle of Predictem.com
There’s talk that this is one of the deepest pools as far as teams on the bubble goes. Every game a bubble team steps out onto the floor, they hear about of what a win could do for their chances of getting into the 65-team NCAA Tournament field.
Florida State is listening.
The Seminoles climbed their way back into the conversation of a bubble team with three straight ACC wins. Before that streak, FSU lost 8 out of its last 10 games, taking them completely out of the tournament talk.
Although the task is daunting, they’ll have to prove they belong when they travel to Chapel Hill to take on the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, the North Carolina Tar Heels. UNC knocked off Tennessee from the top spot this past week and come into the contest tied atop the ACC with Duke, and are riding a six game winning streak.
The Tar Heels boast some wicked stats, including the nation’s second best scoring offense at 90.1 points per game. They’re also 17th in field goal percentage (48.4%) and 11th in free throw shooting (76.1%). They also grab 14 offensive rebounds per game and out rebound their opponents by a whopping 11.3 margin. It’s no wonder they’re the best team in the land.
It’s also no wonder they are favored 16.5 against the Seminoles according to most betting websites. With the nations second leading scoring team comes a huge over/under at 157 points as well.
While teams like Memphis, Tennessee and Duke have all been toward the top of the rankings, it’s the Tar Heels that have been the most consistent, never falling out of the Top 5 in the polls. North Carolina did a lot of their damage with injured point guard Ty Lawson missing six games before coming back in their 90-80 win over Boston College on Saturday.
Lawson should not only help UNC offensively, but defensively as well. The Tar Heels have given up an uncharacteristic 76 points in the past seven games, including a season high 93 to Clemson.
Lawson came off the bench to play 21 minutes and score four points on Saturday against Boston College. Tyler Hansborough led UNC with 25 points and 9 rebounds in typical Tyler Hansborough form, leading his team back from an 18-point deficit. As one of the two main players in the conversation of National Player of the Year, Hansborough has stepped up for his team in the absence of Lawson, averaging a double-double on the year (23.4 points; 10.4 rebounds).
With Quentin Thomas replacing Lawson in the starting lineup, he’ll be back to a reserve role, although with a lot more experience.
The Seminoles have lost to the Tar Heels seven straight times, however, they took them into overtime just over a month ago in an 84-73 loss.
In that game, Danny Green was the spark, coming off the bench and scoring 19 points. Hansborough also had one of his typical games with 22 points and 21 rebounds.
In the match up a month ago, FSU was led by Jason Rich and his 22 points. The telling stat, though, is the fact that the Tar Heels out rebounded the Seminoles 50-25.
The Tar Heels are the second best team in the country in terms of covering the spread. Their 19-7 mark ATS is just behind New Mexico (20-1-7). North Carolina is also 5-0 ATS in their last five games against teams with a winning record.
The cover jinx doesn’t end there for FSU, as they are 0-4 ATS in the last four meetings against UNC. They also don’t cover well after a SU win, having a 1-8 record in their last nine games. They don’t mind being big underdogs, though, with a 6-2 mark when 13-point or more dogs.
Florida State has the manpower to stay with UNC for a half, that is. The Tar Heels will see if they can wear down the Seminoles and out-physical them once again.
Oracle’s Pick: Look for UNC to dominate the glass, giving them a huge advantage and leading them to covering the spread. The lines are moving, so if you can lay one down on UNC 16.5, do it!