ACC Tournament Second Round Top Picks Feature NC State and Boston College Guard Play

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NCAAB Top Pick for Today

Virginia Tech vs. NC State: NC State -2.5 (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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NC State -2.5 (-110)
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Picks Summary

  • Virginia Tech vs. NC State: NC State -2.5 (-110)
  • Boston College vs. North Carolina: Boston College +10.5 (-110)

Top sportsbooks have released their NCAAB odds for tonight’s college basketball action. Two games, in particular, interest me as worth investing in: Virginia Tech vs. NC State and Boston College vs. North Carolina.

For reasons that I will explain, you should play the spread on both games for your NCAAB picks.

Virginia Tech Hokies vs. NC State Wolfpack

Wednesday, March 08, 2023 – 09:30 PM EST at Greensboro Coliseum

The First Meeting

These teams played once in the regular season. Virginia Tech lost at home with a score of 73-69. That game took place on January 7.

While power forward Jack Clark was out for the Wolfpack, during that phase of the season the Hokies were playing without key guard Hunter Cattoor.

A Hokie backer would say immediately that Cattoor’s absence was difference-making because he provides veteran leadership, is an excellent shooter, and is a stout perimeter defender.


The main problem with Hokie perimeter defenders as a whole (crucially, this includes Cattoor) is that they are not very athletic. There is no way to really quantify a lack of athleticism, but this lack is evident from watching guards Sean Pedulla and Cattoor play.

They won’t get out-athleted by, say, a Virginia group of guards that relies on being clinical with off-ball movement, screens, and crisp passing. But they will struggle containing athletic guards like Wake Forest point guard Tyree Appleby, who hurt the Hokies with 24 points in his team’s 77-75 win in Blacksburg.

They also struggled to contain the dribble penetration of Miami’s athletes, who swept their regular season series against the Hokies with the help of two high-scoring outputs. Even against a less talented team like Notre Dame, Hokie defenders struggled to often to contain dribble penetration in what was a Fighting Irish cover.

NC State’s Offense

The Wolfpack’s offensive outlook is positive because they rely on two guards in Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner who are superbly athletic. Their athleticism is evident in, among other places, their ability to create their own shot. They shake off defenders in tight spaces, enabling nearly half their three-pointers to be unassisted.

As for driving inside, ball-handlers relying on screens deal with Virginia Tech’s hard hedge, which is an effective tactic for deterring dribble penetration.

One countertactic will be to slip the screen, compelling the hedging defender to abandon his path to keep up with his opponent’s off-ball movement. Slipping screens is a tactic that has facilitated dribble penetration against the Hokies’ defense, and it is something that NC State can do in order to score inside.

Big Man Burns

Of course, they’ll also throw it inside to the monstrous DJ Burns, their center whose physicality and size will be too much for the undersized Hokies.

They’ll have to devote extra attention to him in the low post, which will open up spaces behind the arc for Wolfpack shooters like catch-and-shoot threat Casey Morsell.

NC State’s Perimeter Defense

The Wolfpack are known for their ball pressure, which they often apply the length of the court. Their strength is guarding the perimeter. They’ll employ defenders well behind the arc to ensure that opponents lack sufficient room to achieve an open shot.

Now, Hokie players generally lack the same sort of skill set as NC State’s shot-creators. They’ll rather rely on using screens to free themselves for an open shot behind the arc.

But one reason why NC State ranks number one in the ACC at limiting opposing three-point percentage and number two in the ACC at limiting the rate of opposing three-point attempts is that Wolfpack defenders excel at fighting through screens and otherwise staying glued onto opposing potential shooters behind the arc.

Their perimeter defense especially against a catch-and-shoot team was evident when they held Virginia to 63 points on its home floor, while the Hoos were only 2-of-8 from behind the arc, despite their characteristic inclination to shoot a lot of threes.

Rim Protection

Burns will be too physical down low for Virginia Tech center Grant Basile, who will try to apply deception (like by faking a dribble handoff) to find a path to the basket.

Otherwise, Basile will be good for a couple of threes behind the arc where the slower Burns will have to try to contest his shots when he’s not substituted for Ebenezer Dowuona, who is much more nimble and more suited for containing a guy like Basile’s dribble drive.

The Verdict

A decent offensive performance from Basile won’t come near sufficing to make up for the advantages enjoyed by NC State’s guard play, whose athleticism, dribble penetration, and shot creation will help the Wolfpack thrive offensively, in addition to the physical Burns owning the low post when the Hokies don’t commit a double team, and whose ball pressure and attentiveness to the perimeter will help limit Virginia Tech’s scoring output.

NCAAB Pick: NC State -2.5 (-110) at BetOnline

Boston College Eagles vs. North Carolina Tar Heels

Wednesday, March 08, 2023 – 07:00 PM EST at Greensboro Coliseum

Too Many Points

I immediately did a double-take when I saw that North Carolina was being asked to beat Boston College by over 10 points. Away from home, the Tar Heels have only beaten miserable Louisville and fellow bottom-feeder Florida State by over 10 points; this trend includes non-conference play.

Boston College has been playing better, though; the Eagles beat Virginia by 15 and Wake Forest on the road by two.

This Eagle team, with such wins, is not the one that dropped a lot of spots in the KenPom rankings, which influence what the NCAAB odds are at Massachussets betting sites, after losing to Maine and Tarleton State back in November.

Two Considerations

Boston College is devoted to preventing easy baskets at the rim by swarming inside. So, the first consideration should be whether Boston College’s opponent can with strong outside shooting take advantage of the attention that Eagle defenders love to devote inside. North Carolina cannot take advantage, the Tar Heels rank 334th nationally in three-point percentage.

Secondly, the Eagles love to attack the basket, so we should consider whether they can thrive inside. North Carolina’s defensive strength is to guard the perimeter. Tar Heel’s three-point defense stats and the team’s triumphs over teams like Clemson and Virginia that love to shoot the three provide evidence of this strength.

Against UNC’s defensively vulnerable guards, opposing ball-handlers like Duke’s Jeremy Roach have been able to achieve the easiest-looking dribble drives in a game’s most crucial moments.

A team that has continued to score more points more consistently even without center Quinten Post, Boston College has several players who will find a way to drive inside and to take advantage of the Tar Heels’ lack of shot-blocking.

NCAAB Pick: Boston College +10.5 (-110) at BetOnline

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Boston College +10.5 (-110)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.