Virginia Tech (15-4, 4-3) at North Carolina (18-3, 6-1)
When: Thursday, January 26th 2017
Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
Time: 8:00 ET | TV: ESPN
The Virginia Tech Hokies aim for their third consecutive victory when they visit the North Carolina Tar Heels on Thursday night. The Hokies broke out of a 1-3 skid with a couple of one-point victories last week against Georgia Tech and Clemson. Guard Seth Allen led the way in both games by scoring 17 in each victory. Allen made the winning basket against Georgia Tech and scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half while turning the ball over just once in 37 minutes against Clemson. Allen leads the ACC in 3-point shooting percentage (48.2%), hitting 27 of his 56 attempts. Senior forward Zach LeDay leads five players averaging in double figures scoring and shoots 51.9% from the floor to help the Hokies rank third in the ACC in field-goal percentage (48.7). Sophomore guards Ahmed Hill (13.6 points, team-high 47 3-pointers) and Chris Clarke (12.5 points, team-high 7.8 rebounds) are also key contributors. Virginia Tech has lost the last six meetings with North Carolina including a 75-70 home loss last January.
The sixth-ranked Tar Heels have won six games in a row after dropping their ACC opener at Georgia Tech on New Year’s Eve. North Carolina held off lowly Boston College 90-82 on Saturday to extend their winning streak as senior forward Kennedy Meeks scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Meeks (13 points, team-high 9.6 rebounds) is a force inside for a North Carolina team that leads the nation with a +14.2 rebounding margin while Virginia Tech is outrebounding opponents by less than one per game. Junior guard Justin Jackson has been terrific in ACC play, scoring at least 16 in all seven games and averaging more than 20 over the last six. Jackson leads the team overall in points (18.2) with junior guard Joel Berry II chipping in with 15.5 points and 3.9 assists per game despite scoring only nine versus Boston College. Senior forward Isaiah Hicks, who leads the team in field-goal percentage (61.0), is averaging 18 points the last four games and freshman forward Tony Bradley returned last game after missing the previous two with a concussion.
This Virginia Tech teams seems to play better against the big boys and now that they have won two in a row, the confidence is growing. North Carolina will win this game, but 14 is a lot of points.
Pick: Virginia Tech +14