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Miami, UNC seek first ACC win on Wednesday
By: Robert Livingston - StatFox
Published: 1/8/2014  at  4:54:00 AM
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Dean E. Smith Center - Chapel Hill, NC
Tip-off: Wednesday, 9:00 p.m. ET
Line: North Carolina -10

Now 0-2 in ACC play, on Wednesday Miami will try to be the next team to surprise North Carolina, which has had a roller-coaster season of strong wins and surprising losses.

The Tar Heels opened ACC play on Sunday with a 73-67 loss to 6.5-point underdog Wake Forest, marking their fourth loss of the season. Their other defeats came to three other unranked teams -- Belmont, UAB, and Texas -- but they own wins over elite programs such as Michigan State, Louisville and Kentucky who are all ranked among the top-15 teams in the nation right now. North Carolina is 7-7 ATS overall and 4-5 ATS at home, but is 17-2 ATS since 1997 coming off an upset loss as a road favorite. Miami began conference play with an overtime to Virginia Tech back on Dec. 8, and followed that up on Saturday with another ACC defeat to No. 2 Syracuse, where they played the Orange hard for a 49-44 loss to easily cover the 13-point spread. They are 4-6 ATS overall this year, including 2-2 ATS in true road games. Miami's best win this season came on Dec. 1 when it beat what is now a 12-3 Arizona State team, 60-57 on a neutral court as an eight-point underdog. These two programs met three times last season, with Miami winning and covering in all three games with a 15.0 PPG margin, including beating UNC 87-77 in the ACC Championship game.

Can Carolina prevail by double-digits on Wednesday night? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a 62% ATS (139-86-5) mark, including a stellar 67% ATS (107-52) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Zach is leading the way at 67% ATS (30-15-1) on Best Bets this season, including 75% ATS (24-8) since Nov. 22, while StatFox Scott is 63% ATS (27-16) for the season and 70% ATS (19-8) since Dec. 2. StatFox Gary is 59% ATS (26-18-2) for the season and 69% ATS (18-8) since Dec. 3, while StatFox Brian is 61% ATS (28-18-1) for the season and 66% ATS (21-11) since Nov. 26. StatFox Dave is 59% ATS (26-18-1) for the season and 75% ATS (9-3) since Dec. 18.

With much of last year’s talent gone, this has been a transition season for Miami, especially on the offensive end where it averages only 63.5 PPG (329th in Div. I) on 42.4% FG (267th in nation) and 32.6% threes. But the Hurricanes are able to stay in games due to an excellent defense allowing only 59.5 PPG on 40.0% FG. Six-foot-6 SG Rion Brown (13.4 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.1 APG) paces the offense, though he has to improve his shooting, making just 40% FG and 28% of his attempts from 3-point range. In the conference losses to Virginia Tech and Syracuse he failed to break double digits in either game, going a combined 7-for-24 from the floor (2-of-9 threes). The only other double-digit scorer is North Carolina native SG Garrius Adams (10.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG), who has also posted inefficient scoring numbers (37% FG, 28% threes). Down low, the guy to watch out for is senior PF Donnavan Kirk (9.1 PPG, 7.1 RPG) who leads the team in rebounding and also swats a team-high 2.3 BPG in his first season after transferring from DePaul.

The Tar Heels offense is much more up-tempo than Miami, scoring 79.1 PPG (47th in Div. I) and grabbing 42.1 RPG (12th in nation). They shoot a strong 46.7% FG, but make only 32.4% three-pointers and 62.4% free throws. Although they allow 68.9 PPG, these opponents have made just 38.5% of their shots. Sophomore guard Marcus Paige (17.6 PPG, 4.1 APG) leads the team in scoring and passing, though he has played more off the ball this year while the team has needed him to score more. He struggled in Sunday's loss to Wake Forest—eight points on 3-for-12 FG with four turnovers—though he added six assists before he fouled out. As senior SG Leslie McDonald (11.6 PPG, 36% threes) grows more comfortable in the offense after missing the beginning of the season due to eligibility concerns, Paige should benefit. Paige scored 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting in last year’s ACC title game against the Hurricanes. Six-foot-5 swingman J.P. Tokoto (10.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG) also challenges teams on the perimeter with an ability to hit jump shots, and is coming off a 12-point, nine-rebound, three-block performance against the Demon Deacons. Down low, PF James Michael McAdoo (14.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG) has as much upside as anyone in the country, though his actual production is often a disappointment relative to those expectations. But after failing to score 10 points in four straight games, McAdoo has gone on a run of seven straight double-figure scoring games, averaging 16.1 PPG on 54% FG during this surge. He averaged a pedestrian 10.7 PPG and 4.7 RPG in the three defeats to Miami last season. McAdoo gets help on the block from C Brice Johnson (11.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG) and PF Kennedy Meeks (7.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG), who puts up those numbers in only 15.2 MPG.

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