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North Carolina vs. Virginia, Villanova vs. UConn picks: College hoops odds

Best practice this season is to avoid playing against top-10 favorites.

The top teams are dropping like flies, especially on the road.

But it’s still worth backing the blueblood, especially against an opponent with a shaky offensive resume.

There are two games on Saturday where this is the case.

10. North Carolina at Virginia

This line (UNC -3) pays homage to Tony Bennett.

Even with the John Paul Jones Arena factor factored in, my power rankings have UNC receiving 5.5 points for this game.

The main reason for that is Virginia’s dismal performance on offense.

This is perhaps Bennett’s worst collection of shooters in his 18 years as a head coach.

The Cavaliers currently rank 278th in shooting efficiency and inexplicably 352nd (64.2 percent) from the foul line.

Their inconsistency from the floor, combined with their preferred pace, which is the slowest in the country, means the offense will struggle to top 60 points on a nightly basis.

Teams like IUPUI, Chicago State, Florida A&M, and Tennessee Tech all find ways to score more points per game than Virginia.

Currently, the Wahoos are making up for their deficiencies on the offensive end by playing great team basketball on the defensive end.

Bennett’s famous “pack line” defense continues to be effective, as evidenced by last Saturday’s 49-47 win over Wake Forest.

But North Carolina has the perimeter shooting (35.6 percent from 3-point range) and the frontcourt width (10.6 offensive rebounds, 40th) to hurt UVA on the glass.

Virginia has been hit by the three-ball many times this season.

Pitt made 14 3-pointers in upsetting UVA at home just last week, and opponents have averaged 10 triples in the Cavaliers’ remaining six losses this season.


North Carolina Tar Heels #4 RJ Davis dribbles the ball during a game against the Clemson Tigers. Getty Images

Even if North Carolina can’t attack from long range, it’s hard to believe Virginia’s offense can take advantage of that.

The Cavaliers have suffered a long drought in recent weeks, including going scoreless for nine straight minutes in the first half against Virginia Tech.

This explains why Virginia has given up “kill shot” runs 10 times this season (10-0 or better).

Only one other player (Rutgers) has allowed more runs to a KenPom Top 10 defense.

Finally, I believe it’s time for RJ Davis to bounce back.

The ACC’s leading scorer has shot just 38 percent from the field over the past six games.

But even during his mini-slump, he’s continued to be deadly from deep, averaging a season-long 41 percent from behind the arc.

He will take on an offensive role and help secure an important win for the Tar Heels as they enter the stretch run of the ACC title race.

recommendation: UNC-3.

Do you want to bet on college basketball?

villanova at connecticut

If you’re intrigued by the idea of ​​fading out Virginia at home, may I suggest fading out the toothless Villanova offense on the road?

The Wildcats can’t shoot (42.7 field goal percentage, 256th), force turnovers (256th) or create second chances on the glass (7.7 offensive rebounds, 266th).

And they will get the attention of the defending national champions after nearly upsetting UW in South Philadelphia last month.

Villanova has suffered heavy losses on the road, losing to St. John’s by 20 points and Marquette by 13 points in recent games.

The Huskies, on the other hand, have been on fire at home, wiping out teams like Marquette, Xavier and Creighton by double digits.

After Tuesday night’s 19-point loss to Creighton, a masterclass from UConn will be held at Gampel Pavilion on Saturday, given Dan Hurley’s harsh and outspoken criticism of the staff and players after the game. I hope so.

recommendation: Yukon -11.

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