Is history repeating itself? Just like last year when all hope seemed bleak, North Carolina is once again making a late season push to make the tournament. After a crucial loss to North Carolina State, the Tar Heels postseason hopes looked all but finished. That was until they made a comeback against Notre Dame and thwarted the Virginia Cavaliers. Now they have an inferior Florida State squad before the highly anticipated rematch against Duke. Can UNC get the job done on the road to keep their postseason hopes alive?
North Carolina Vs. Florida State Prediction & Pick
With that said, I will be backing the under at the current number as it is still available in some shops. I would take this no lower than 151.5 for a smaller wager. Even though Florida State has steadily improved on the offensive end, I can’t help but lean towards how awful they looked for a majority of the season. They also have become the punching bag of the conference, most likely catching postseason contenders in sleep mode. UNC is not in the same boat, desperately needing to win out while also improving on the defensive end.
Transitional defense continues to be a problem, ranking near dead last in fast break points allowed. That may be negated as Florida State’s defense is ill-equipped to force UNC into havoc situations. The Tar Heels have also improved in taking care of the ball, playing a more conservative approach by attacking the interior with Bacot and turning Caleb Love more into a catch and shoot type of player amidst his struggles. Both play at a familiar pace with UNC ranking 82nd in Adjusted Tempo and Florida State clocking in at 83rd.
With the pace playing slower than expected, we may see more halfcourt sets which bodes well for the Tar Heels defense. This is the area they have improved the most in this recent stretch as they have done a fantastic job at limiting interior production. With Bacot and Nance anchoring the middle against a weak Seminoles offense, UNC can afford to stretch out more towards the perimeter and create pressure up top. They still struggle in covering gaps created from pick and rolls sets but are reluctant to the fact that Florida State is a poor perimeter shooting unit, negating the open looks.
North Carolina Vs. Florida State Odds
Oddsmakers certainly think so as they opened the Tar Heels as a -7.5 favorite on the road. Bettors are backing the upstart Heels as well, taking them up to -8 as of writing in some shops. For every bit of disappointment that the Tar Heels have faced this season, it has been more than doubled for the Seminoles as it has been one to forget for Florida State. Although they do come off a surprising upset in their last game out, hitting a game winner over Miami. This is intriguing as they get UNC in a sandwich spot, making the spread a stay away for me.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a blistering pace as oddsmakers opened the total at 152.5. Bettors were quick to hit the under, taking it down to as low as 151.5 as of writing. Recency bias may be factoring in, but Florida State has seemed to steadily improve which isn’t saying much as they are one of the worst power teams in the country. Speaking of improvement, UNC has mightily improved on the defensive end. Once looking like a lost cause, now putting together a string of impressive defensive performances in desperation mode.
North Carolina Vs. Florida State Key Matchups
Can Florida State’s brutally bad defense slow down the Tar Heels enough for our under ticket?
UNC perimeter shooting vs Florida State guards
Sort of like the Golden State Warriors this season, UNC is also night and day with their home and away splits. Playing as a far superior unit at home, suffering mightily across the board when on the road.
That includes their shooting percentages, drastically dipping in enemy territory. Perimeter shooting plays a major role in UNC’s success as that was made apparent in their hot start against Virginia in their last game out.
I am banking on this trend to continue in our unders favor as this will help shadow Florida State’s defensive metrics. They rank 244th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, failing to field any sort of pressure on the defensive end. FSU can use their length up top to smother UNC’s looks to get them out of rhythm early and often assuming they come in sleepy.
Take the under at no lower than 151.5 in what is an appetizer for the Tar Heels before their big rematch against the Blue Devils.