Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at 12:00 PM
There are so many good teams in the ACC right now that college basketball fans and sports bettors are treated to marquee matchups on almost a daily basis. Everyone should really be looking forward to Wednesday Night’s class on ESPN featuring #7 Louisville and #8 North Carolina. Those two are currently on the short list of legitimate National Championship threats. Just yesterday, Joe Lunardi of ESPN moved North Carolina up to a #1 seed because of their impressive recent form.
Carolina did look great last Saturday when dominating fading Virginia. Louisville has been a money team all season as you’ll see in a moment…performing at what is arguably top seed level from the get-go in terms of exceeding Vegas expectations.
Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicators stats have to say about this blockbuster matchup. You regulars know that we focus on the publicly available stats at kenpom.com that adjust raw statistics for tempo and strength of schedule. (Jim Hurley’s in-house proprietary stats are for his eyes only!)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency
Louisville: 118.5 per 100 possessions (#17 in the nation)
N. Carolina: 122.9 per 100 possessions (#4 in the nation)
Louisville is seen by the media as a team that can blow hot and cold from the field. But, once you adjust for strength of schedule and a slightly below average pace….they actually grade out well on this side of the ball. That’s how they cover so many spreads! Of course, North Carolina is truly elite. They have a variety of weapons. They fly at the basket. And, this year they’ve added three-point scoring to what was already a potent mix. Edge to the Tar Heels…but perhaps not as big an edge as you had been thinking.
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency
Louisville: 90.5 per 100 possessions (#5 in the nation)
N. Carolina: 95.3 per 100 possessions (#26 in the nation)
Coach Rick Pitino has emphasized defense ever since his return from the NBA. The media is finally starting to notice that after being behind the curve for far too long. Louisville get stops by stealing the ball and grabbing missed shots. Carolina can’t afford to go cold from the field or they’ll have a dry spell that could doom them at a favorite price. Note the recent improvement in Carolina’s defense though. We mentioned not too far back that they weren’t really grading out well in “championship” terms on this side of the floor. They’ve definitely improved….which gives them a real shot to go the distance this season (after barely falling short a year ago). If Carolina can nudge that mark up into the Top 20…they could arguably be the real national favorite next month!
N. Carolina: #50
You know Carolina loves to run…which is what makes them such a challenge to deal with. Great depth…great talent…and a fast pace is just too much for many opponents. Louisville is slightly below average in pace…but not slow as molasses like Virginia. The Cards won’t be afraid of a little tempo. They just have to be careful not to play into Carolina’s hands by running too much. As we’ve mentioned often, the HOME team usually has the larger influence on a game’s pace…which should help Carolina here as it did vs. Virginia this past Saturday.
Against the Spread
N. Carolina: 14-12-1
After all of those reasons to like Carolina (great offense, improving defense, strong recent form), we’re reminded here that Louisville has offered great betting value all season. The market knows Carolina is loaded, which means the spreads are high hurdles. For some reason, the market has been slow to respect Louisville, which has positioned them to cash tickets all along. Will Carolina be too big a favorite Wednesday night because of all their recent positive press? That’s the riddle you do-it-yourselfers have to solve.
JIM HURLEY is looking to solve it too! He’ll wait to see the posted opener and early sharp betting before deciding whether his clients should jump in. There’s no reason to force a TV play when the Wednesday schedules are so loaded. You can purchase NETWORK’S daily BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about combination packages through March Madness or the NBA Playoffs, please call us in the office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155. The sooner you sign up, the better your value!
Back in a few days to preview that much anticipated UCLA/Arizona rematch set for Saturday Night. Pollsters may be overrating both Pac 12 entries at the moment…as the computers have both Louisville and North Carolina clear of #4 Arizona and #5 UCLA. Viewers will be able to determine their relative merits with their own eyes. (Don’t forget that the ACC significantly outperformed the Pac 12 in last year’s Dance!)
For now focus on Louisville/North Carolina as the march to madness continues. And, keep getting all of those BIG, JUICY WINNERS from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!