Free Sports Picks: College Basketball Wednesday Night
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 1/20/2010
After a 7-1-2 run in the NFL and a 9-2 mark in college football to put me at 16-3-2 overall in football I will be moving on to college basketball just in time for the heart of conference play. For Wednesday night we have a pair of games featuring ranked opponents in the ACC and the Big East.
Wake Forest at No. 23 North Carolina, 7 p.m. ET ESPN
North Carolina -6.5
How They Enter
Apparently the Tarheels can lose as many games as they want and still be ranked. They have been drubbed on neutral courts against Syracuse and Texas, lost road games at Charleston and Clemson and entering this game they are coming off a 73-71 loss at home to Georgia Tech. North Carolina is now 1-3 SU in its last four games, an unheard of stretch for this program under Roy Williams.
Wake Forest has taken its share of lumps lately in conference play, losing two of three entering this game, including a close 67-66 loss at Miami-Florida and a not-so-close 20-point loss at Duke. The Demon Deacons have been the cardiac kids all season. Three of their last five games have gone to overtime, not including the one-point regulation loss at Miami-Florida.
Both teams are young and rebuilding but still have talent. Wake Forest has been scoring 77-points per game and has been limiting teams to 37 percent field goal shooting and 26 percent three-point shooting. Both rank in the Top 10 in the entire country. Aminu Al-Farouq has been the lone inside presence for Wake; he averages 11.6 rebounds and 17.6 points per game, both lead the team. He will have his biggest challenge Wednesday night against North Carolina’s forwards.
While Wake has been doing it with defense, North Carolina has been doing it with offense to the tune of 83 points per game (10th in the country), but they have been getting gouged for 73 points per game (275th in the country). The Tar Heels are also the exact opposite when it comes to where they get their scoring. Four of North Carolina’s five leading scorers are forwards. Deon Thompson, Ed Davis, Tyler Zeller and William Graves all score at least nine points per game and they will be a handful for Wake Forest all night.
Trends That Matter
Wake Forest is 1-4 ATS against the ACC this season
Wake Forest is 1-4 ATS in their last five games after a SU loss
North Carolina is 1-5 ATS in its last six games
The ‘over’ has hit five out of the last six times in this meeting
The favorite is 4-1 ATS the last five meetings between this team.
With its recent struggles, North Carolina has fallen out of favor with the oddsmakers. They are only giving 6.5 points to a team it should dominate inside. The home loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday should further motivate the Tar Heels. The play here is North Carolina giving the points and the over.
No. 14 Georgetown at No. 11 Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. ET ESPNU
How They Enter
Pitt enters undoubtedly as the surprise story of the college basketball season. This is a team that struggled mightily against Wofford in a season-opening game, a team that needed double overtime to get past Duquesne and a team that was outclassed by Indiana at Madison Square Garden. Not to mention a team that lost two NBA Draft picks in DeJuan Blair and Sam Young from an Elite Eight campaign last season. But since the loss to Indiana, Pitt has been absolutely on fire and has picked up road wins at Syracuse, Cincinnati and Connecticut in the span of 11 days. That is an unheard of feat in the Big East and they followed that with an overtime win over Louisville at home.
Yet it seems the books still have not figured out the Panthers and are not buying into their No. 11 ranking. At home they are only favored by one against Georgetown.
Not to slight Georgetown who is a top Big East team in their own right. They proved their strength in non-conference play with wins over Butler and at Washington but they have been underwhelming in Big East play and against the spread. In the Big East they are 4-2 but their only road win is a 67-50 win at DePaul. Against the spread the Hoyas are 2-4 in Big East play while the Panthers, catching everyone off guard, are 4-1 ATS in Big East play and 7-1-1 ATS after a poor 1-4-1 ATS start to the season.
Pitt has one of the worst offenses in the conference but the additions of Jermaine Dixon and Gilbert Brown have been indispensable. They both missed a total of 19 team games already this season. Another key reason for their success is the ability of unknown Gary McGhee to fill in for DeJuan Blair. McGhee has been a serviceable replacement.
The Hoyas, shooting 49-percent, are one of the top shooting teams in the entire country. They are also limiting opponents to 39 percent shooting. Greg Monroe over McGhee will be the big mismatch here as the Hoyas’ center averaged 10 rebounds and 15 points per game. Guards Austin Freeman (15.9 ppg), Chris Wright (14.2) and Jason Clark (10.9) give Georgetown an inside-out presence.
Trends That Matter
Pitt is 4-0-2 ATS at home since December
Following its last six wins Pitt is 5-0-1 ATS
The last five times these Big East powers met the under has hit four of them.
Pitt has been the underachievers all season long and coach Jamie Dixon hoped they would stay that way. However, a jump to No. 11 in the polls (No. 9 in the AP poll) is doing Dixon no favors. The Panthers might start to read their press clippings just in time as a hungry Georgetown team comes to town. It is perfect timing for the Hoyas, take Georgetown plus the point.