UNC Tar Heels vs. Clemson Tigers – College Basketball, February 2, 2021

By Dean McHugh in College Basketball
| February 2, 2021 3:59 am PDT

Very little separates these two teams right now; in fact, the Tigers are just one win away from UNC, and with a game in hand, it really could be all square. Therefore, it makes this game even more critical as if the Tar Heels win, they will draw daylight between them, but a win for the Tigers means if they were to win their game in hand, they would go above the Tar Heels. Everything is to play for here, with both sides two or three wins away from the top of the standings.

The two teams are that closely matched that two of the previous five games between them have been level after regular time.

Oddly UNC has a better record on the road against Clemson and has won five of the last six games.

The Tigers have struggled with slow starts against UNC, averaging 28 first-half points over the last ten games.

Here is my Tar Heels vs. Tigers betting preview.

Tar Heels vs. Tigers Odds

Tar Heels (-3.5) -110
Tigers (+3.5) -110
Tar Heels To Win -162
Tigers To Win +146
Over 134.5 Points -110
Under 134.5 Points -110

The odds on the Tar Heels are crumbling fast, so if you are a fan of theirs, back them ASAP as they look like they will only get shorter. They opened at -120 and have since been cut to -162, and I suspect it will end up nearer -200 come game time if this pattern continues. With so much movement, it might be safer and wiser to focus on the points total market, which looks relatively low.

The Tar Heels have relished being the game-day favorites this season, winning ten of their 12 games. The Tigers haven’t done as well as the underdogs, losing four of the six games they entered as outsiders.

Tar Heels Preview

UNC is playing some great basketball right now and has only been beaten once in their previous seven games. They are on a run of three straight wins; however, they are likely to be slightly cautious given they have won three games in a row on two occasions this season, and they lost the very next match both times.

On the road, they have a record of 5-4, which highlights they have struggled for the consistency they have had at home this season.

Here are the latest betting trends for UNC:

Against The Spread
  • They have lost eight of their last 12 games.
  • The Tar Heels have only won two of their previous six games against the Tigers.
  • UNC is 1-6 in their last seven games on the road.
Points Total
  • Four of their last five games have gone over the betting total.
  • This is also the case of their previous five games played in February.
Other Pointers
  • They have only won 17 of their last 20 games against Clemson.

UNC has an excellent offense that is primarily down to having one of the country’s best rebounding games. Thankfully for their supporters, it is superb as their shooting has been woeful at times this season, especially from deep.

They control the ball well and draw many fouls from their opponents, which they have punished by making the most three-throws in the league. However, when you delve deeper into the stats, you have to question if they are punishing their opponents as they are only shooting at 67% from the free-throw line this season, which is the third-lowest average in the Conference.

Although they are usually good at controlling the ball, they can get sloppy, trying to force the issue if they fall behind in games, which leads to a high number of turnovers. They can also lose their discipline going behind, so they must start well.

But perhaps their discipline issues this season go much deeper. Last season, many questioned if they were ‘pushovers’ as they seemed to lack the game’s physical side. Armando Bacot spoke recently about not letting this happen this season.

Their defense is pretty decent, they set up to mark their opponents deep, which doesn’t leave much space for them to work, but it does leave them open against three-pointers.

Generally, they are a consistent team at home or away, so perhaps their poor(ish) form on the road is more down to the fact that they have faced better teams than they have at home.

UNC will miss the services of Manley, who is out with a knee injury, and there remain fitness doubts over Johnson, who has been struggling with a bad foot.

Tigers Preview

The Tigers almost perfect season is slipping away from them as they have lost four of their last five games. Well, they haven’t just lost those games; they have been annihilated in them. They lost by margins of 35, 18, 19, and 26 in their most recent 79-53 loss to Duke. Although this was Duke’s best game of the season, it is still worrying times for the Tigers fans.

However, three of those defeats were on the road, and they find themselves back at home, where they have relished this season losing just one of their eight games.

Here are the latest betting trends for Clemson:

Against The Spread
  • They have only won one of their last seven games.
  • Clemson is 1-4 in their previous five games against teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Points Total
  • Six of their last eight games have gone over the betting total.
  • Their last six meetings with UNC have seen the points total go over each time.
  • The total has gone under in six of their last nine games played in February.
  • On a Tuesday night, their games have tended to be explosive, with 11 of the last 14 going over the points total.

Clemson has one of the best defenses in the country that is best described as hard-working. They concede on average just 63 points per game, which should make them competitive most nights. One area that they can improve upon would be their blocking, as they have the third-lowest average per game in the Conference.

However, their offense is only averaging 64 points per game and is letting them down badly. They have the worst field goal percentage in the Conference, making 41% of their shots this season. But it perhaps not all their fault as the team appears to be set up to defend first and attack second.

Aamir Simms has led the way for the Tigers this season, but it seems that he hasn’t got to the level he is at right now without hard work and graft.

Clemson head into this game with no injury concerns.

Tar Heels vs. Tigers Betting Pick

I was initially tempted to opt for over the points total, but neither team is shooting great right now, so that play seems risky.

Although these two teams come into this match with similar records, their current form couldn’t be any different. Therefore, I will take the team with all the momentum to continue their good form and beat the struggling Tigers. Look for them to start fast in their one.

  • Tar Heels To Win



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