North Carolina Tarheels vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Preview and Pick

University of North Carolina Tarheels (17-0) at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (7-8), Jan. 16, 9:00 ET, Alexander Memorial Coliseum, ESPN.
by Matt of

The number 1 ranked UNC Tarheels travel to Atlanta, GA to take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in an Atlantic Coast Conference battle. ESPN broadcasts the 9:00pm ET tip, Wednesday night.

UNC is a perfect 17-0 on the year thus far, dispatching NC State most recently at home 93-62 on Saturday. UNC-Asheville went down 93-81, on Wednesday before that, also a UNC home game. The Tarheels have overwhelmed many opponents this year, beating foes by 22.1 points on average. North Carolina stands atop the ACC conference with a 2-0 record. They share the top spot with 2-0 Boston College and stand game in front of #5 Duke and #24 Miami (FL)both at 1-0.

Georgia Tech has been up and down on the year and currently sits at 7-8 overall in 07-08. They are coming off two road losses most recently, losing 68-78 at Miami (FL) on Saturday and coming up short 72-79 at Georgia the Wednesday prior. Tech is the only ACC team with a sub-.500 overall record, and at 0-2 in conference, find themselves in the cellar along with Maryland. The Jackets will look to use the home court to give them any chance at an upset; they are 4-3 so far at home.

The Tarheels are unblemished straight up, but also carry an impressive 12-2
overall mark against the spread. They are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 on the
road (6-2 road overall), but have come up short lately versus Georgia Tech,
going winless ATS in the last five tips in Atlanta and 3-10 ATS in the last
13 regardless of location.

Georgia Tech is 3-2 against the spread at home on the year, and has won their last 8 ATS against an opponent with a road record of .500 or better. Tech is riding high at home in general of late, posting an 18-8 mark ATS at Alexander Memorial. In this match up the home team is 6-2 in the last 8 ATS.

The line for the game opened with Tech an 11 point dog at -105. That line dropped a half point to 10.5 on the overnight for most college basketball sportsbooks and the Jackets are found now at -110. The over/under total is currently off the board.

Both teams come in near full strength with fairly clean injury reports. UNC lists only G Bobby Frasor, out for the season with a knee injury, and Tech is missing F Mouhammad Faye, out indefinitely for personal reasons.

The Tarheels are averaging 92.2 points per contest with Tyler Hansbrough leading the team at 21.2 ppg, he also leads the Heels in rebounding, grabbing nearly ten boards a night. Guards Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson chip in with 17.8 and 13.6 point per game respectively. UNC shoots 49.1% from the field as a team, 38.3% from three and 74.7% from the line.

GA Tech leans on its back court for most of the scoring punch, the Jackets average 76.3 ppg, led by Gs Anthony Morrow at 15 a game and Lewis Clinch at 13.9 per. F Jeremis Smith leads Tech in rebounding, working the glass for 7.2 rpg. As a team, they shoot 47% overall, 36.7% from behind the arc and 69.7% from the stripe. The Yellow Jackets will need to work the glass hard to keep this one close; they average ten less boards a game than the Tarheels. (31.7 to 41.9)

Matt’s Pick: Georgia Tech +11