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College Basketball Pick: UNC at FSU

UNC Basketball

It should be a fascinating battle of opposites on Saturday afternoon in Tallahassee as the nation’s top-scoring team, No. 3 North Carolina, faces one of the country’s top defensive clubs in Florida State. And the Noles usually pull off one big home upset a season.

UNC (15-2, 2-0 ACC) enters on a nine-game winning streak and leads the nation in points 86.9 ppg and rebounds (46.7 pg). The Heels enter off a 17-point win over Miami on Tuesday. Dexter Strickland scored 14 points while Kendall Marshall added 12 — both season highs — to help the Tar Heels beat the Canes. Tyler Zeller scored 16 points to lead the Tar Heels, who closed a nine-game homestand with a perfect record to rebuild some momentum after early losses to UNLV and Kentucky. The Tar Heels led almost the entire night against the Hurricanes and blew the game open with a 17-0 run spanning halftime, which staked UNC to a 23-point lead that never got below 15 the rest of the night.

FSU (10-6, 1-1) had lost three of four but bounced back with a 63-59 win at Virginia Tech on Tuesday. Bernard James had 18 points and 14 rebounds and Florida State survived a furious comeback. Ian Miller added 15 points for the Seminoles, who rebounded from a 20-point loss at Clemson in their ACC opener.

Prior to the game against the Hokies, James was averaging just 10 points and eight rebounds per contest and had only scored in double figures three times all year. If FSU wants to survive the ACC schedule and make another deep run into March it needs James to be at his best.

“My coaches have been challenging me the last couple days leading up to that game,” James said. “They’ve still be challenging me just to play with more energy [and] to motivate my teammates more. I just went out trying to give as much energy as I could. Trying to be an energy giver instead of an energy taker for our team.”

James and the rest of Florida State’s post players have the task of controlling UNC big men Tyler Zeller and John Henson, who stand 7-feet and 6-foot-11, respectively. Henson and Zeller average a combined 29.1 points per game.

Carolina leads the series with Florida State, 42-10, including a 32-9 advantage since the Seminoles joined the ACC prior to the 1991-92 season. The Tar Heels have won 23 of the last 28 in the series, including 12 in the last 14 meetings. Carolina currently has a five-game winning streak in Tallahassee, the longest Tar Heel winning streak at FSU (UNC won four in a row in Tallahassee from 1993-96 and 1998-2001).

The last four UNC appearances in Tallahassee have been thrillers and Tar Heel wins. Last season, Harrison Barnes’ three-pointer with 0:03 on the clock gave Carolina a 72-70 win. In 2009, Ty Lawson’s running three-pointer at the buzzer gave UNC an 80-77 victory. In 2008, the Tar Heels beat FSU in overtime, 84-73. In 2006, The Tar Heels beat FSU 81-80.

Carolina is 14-4 against FSU in the Donald L. Tucker Center with losses in 2003-04, 2001-02, 1996-97 and 1991-92. Roy Williams is 12-3 vs. FSU as the UNC head coach with the losses coming in the 2004 regular season in Tallahassee, the 2009 ACC Tournament semifinals in Atlanta and the 2010 regular season in Chapel Hill.

SA Take: FSU will put up a good fight but these North Carolina players are just too much. The line came out tonight at UNC -7 and is sure to creep up to 8 or 9 before game time. Either way UNC wins by 10. I can see 68-78 UNC victory. Take the Tar Heels.

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Saturday, January 14th, 2012 2012-previews-picks, College Basketball Betting

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