2014 College Basketball Picks: Syracuse @ Pittsburgh and Duke @ North Carolina Odds and Predictions – Free College Basketball Picks 2/12/14
2014 College Basketball Picks: Syracuse @ Pittsburgh and Duke @ North Carolina Odds and Predictions – Free College Basketball Picks 2/12/14: Some of the best teams in the ACC and the country for that matter will be display Wednesday night in pair of marquee matchups. The action begins with the top-ranked Syracuse Orange putting their undefeated record on the line in a road contest with their former Big East and now ACC rivals the Pittsburgh Panthers. Up next is one of the premier rivalries in college basketball as Duke travels to Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina. Here is a closer look at both matchups.
No. 1 Syracuse Orange (23-0, 10-0 ACC) @ No. 25 Pittsburgh Panthers (20-4, 8-3 ACC)
Tuesday’s meeting between the Orange and Panthers is a rematch of a January 18 matchup that Syracuse won 59-54 after a back-and-forth finish. Pittsburgh erased a 10-point deficit late in the second half to take a two-point lead, but the Orange took care of business in the final minutes with a 10-2 run to seal the deal. Pittsburgh point guard Lamar Patterson and Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis both made big plays down the stretch.
This time around, Patterson and Ennis again figure to be major players. However, the Orange also have one of the top defense in the country, and in addition to Ennis, C.J. Fair and Trevor Cooney are both capable offensive weapons. For the Panthers, big man Talib Zanna is the team’s best offensive player after Patterson, and guard Cameron Wright is the only other player scoring in double figures.
Although the crowd is certain to be raucous, the Panthers just haven’t been able to get the job done against top competition in conference play. In addition to a road loss to Syracuse earlier this year, the Panthers dropped home games to Duke and Virginia. More concerning is the fact that Pittsburgh’s offense has really struggled since Patterson injured his thumb. Last week, the Panthers need overtime to beat a mediocre Miami team and double overtime to beat a Virginia Tech team that is just 1-10 in ACC play. In those games, the Panthers averaged just 60.5 points, and scoring won’t be any easier against Syracuse’s stifling zone.
Prediction: Syracuse Orange (+1) Cover the Spread
No. 8 Duke Blue Devils (19-5, 8-3 ACC) @ North Carolina Tar Heels (16-7, 6-4 ACC)
It has been and up and down season for both teams, both sides bring plenty of momentum into Tuesday’s matchup. After dropping games to Clemson and Notre Dame in early January, the Blue Devils have won 7 of their past 8 games. Meanwhile, the Tarheels have followed a 1-4 stretch with 5 straight wins of their own. Duke and North Carolina sit fourth and fifth, respectively, in the ACC so in addition to the bragging rights being at stake, the game is also huge as far as the conference title is concerned.
Duke brings a loaded offense that ranks in the top 20 nationally to the table. Freshman Jabari Parker has led the way at almost 20 points per game, but transfer Rodney Hood and point guard Quinn Cook are both averaging more than 12 points per game, as well. Meanwhile, Rasheed Sulaimon has been big off the bench. North Carolina also has some offensive playmakers with point guard Marcus Paige and forward James Michael McAdoo, but the Tar Heels rank outside the top 100 nationally in field goal percentage and tend to run hot and cold from game to game.
On paper, Duke’s superior offense would seem to give them the edge in this matchup. However, the Tar Heels have played up and down to their competition all season. Losses to Belmont and UAB are ugly, but victories against Michigan State, Louisville and Kentucky are proof that North Carolina can beat any team in the country. It’s safe to assume that a showdown with a top-10 team that also happens to be their biggest rival should be more than enough to bring out a focused effort from the Tar Heels.
Prediction: North Carolina Tar Heels (+2 ½) Cover the Spread
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