NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS (21-8)
at MARYLAND TERRAPINS (20-9)
Comcast Center – College Park, MD
Tip-off: Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: North Carolina -1, Total: 145.5
In a battle with big implications for ACC Tournament seeding, North Carolina and Maryland play their penultimate games of the regular season in College Park Wednesday.
Since getting beaten by Duke, North Carolina has been playing its best basketball of the year, winning five in a row SU and ATS. Maryland, on the other hand, has been perhaps the most enigmatic team in the conference. Since beating Duke five games ago, the Terrapins are 2-2 SU with losses to two of the worst teams in the ACC, Boston College and Georgia Tech. Both of those losses were on the road, however, and Maryland is 16-2 SU at home this season. They have gone 11-4 SU versus Maryland in the past 15 meetings, including five straight wins by 11, 9, 24, 16 and 10 points on Jan. 19. But Maryland has owned this series in College Park, winning four consecutive home meetings ATS against North Carolina, and 11 of 13 ATS dating back to 1997. The Terrapins are 9-4 SU in those games.
Which ACC rival will come away with the crucial victory on Wednesday night? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Gary is red-hot with a 9-4 ATS (69.2%) mark in his past six days to improve to 55% ATS (96-79-4) for college basketball Best Bets this season. StatFox Dave is 6-1 ATS (86%) since Thursday, and is now 52.1% ATS (152-140-5) for the season. And since Feb. 21, StatFox Brian is 60% ATS (12-8) when he wagers on non-BCS conference games.
The Tar Heels are second in the nation with 17.8 APG, and are also ninth nationally in rebounds (40.1 RPG) but that has to do more with their fast-paced style of play rather than their rebounding prowess. In fact, they have not outrebounded a team in their past four games. Swingman Reggie Bullock (14.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG) had his game of the year in the earlier win against Maryland, going for 24 points on 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Bullock is now essentially playing power forward in North Carolina’s starting lineup, but he has the skill set of an athletic wing. Bullock is joined in the frontcourt by true PF James Michael McAdoo (14.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG) who is coming off a big 21-point performance against Florida State. He also had a huge game in the first meeting with Maryland, going for 19 points and 11 boards. North Carolina’s last double-digit scorer is P.J. Hairston (13.3 PPG), who has played his best basketball in the Tar Heels’ recent run since he has been added to the starting lineup. Guards Dexter Strickland (7.9 PPG, 4.0 APG) and Marcus Paige (7.7 PPG, 4.6 APG) aren’t great scorers, but distribute the ball well, turning it over only 3.5 times per game between the two of them.
Maryland doesn't score a whole lot (71.1 PPG, 89th in nation), but shoots 47.0% from the floor and boasts the third-best rebounding team in the nation (41.3 RPG). The star for this club in the first meeting against North Carolina was swingman Dez Wells (12.0 PPG), who went for 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Wells is coming off another big game—23 points on 11-of-12 shooting against Wake Forest—and has been efficient all season, making 54% of his shots with his ability to drive and get in the lane. The guy who really needs to step up, though, is 7-foot-1 C Alex Len (12.0 PPG, 8.1 RPG), who is as talented as they come, but still raw. He's failed to score in double-figures in three of his past four games, averaging just 7.8 PPG on 41% FG during this slump. He went for 10 points and five boards against the Tar Heels, but needs to exploit his size advantage more this time around. He receives key help on the boards from PF Charles Mitchell (5.7 PPG, 5.6 RPG), but the freshman has also been in a funk in the past two games with more fouls (seven) than points (five), thanks to 2-of-8 shooting. Sophomore G Nick Faust (8.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG) has been hot though, with 12.3 PPG on 64% FG.