The Virginia Tech Hokies and North Carolina Tar Heels
meet just once on the regular season schedule. That makes Thursday's matchup
Seth Greenberg brings Virginia Tech (10-4 straight up, 4-6-1 against the spread) into Chapel Hill riding a six-game win streak. The stretch started just after the Hokies cracked their ACC schedule on Dec. 5 with a 57-54 home loss to Virginia as eight-point favorites. Since then, Va Tech owns victories over Penn State, Mississippi State and Florida State, covering three of the four lined games in that span.
The Hokies are also on a four-game 'over' run after beginning the campaign 6-1 to the 'under.'
Last Saturday's 71-59 triumph over the Seminoles saw Virginia Tech close as 3½-point chalk. The Hokies took a 10-point lead into the locker room at halftime thanks to a late run to end the first stanza. The win snapped a three-game losing streak versus Florida State.
Jeff Allen led the way for Va Tech with 24 points, adding 11 rebounds for his third straight double-double and seventh of the season. The 6-foot-7 senior has seen his scoring increase while Malcolm Delaney's output has dropped off a bit. Delaney leads the Hokies with an 18.6 per game average, but has been finding open looks fewer and further between, scoring just 42 points in the last three games combined.
Allen's play has been key, but another big factor in Va Tech's string of wins has been guard Erick Green. The sophomore has stepped in to start all six games in the streak, taking over for Dorenzo Hudson who was lost for the season due to a foot injury. Green, averaging just over nine points a game for the season, is posting a 13.7 PPG mark during the win streak.
If the Hokies are to make it seven straight, they'll have to do it against a team they haven't had much luck against over the years. The Tar Heels own a 60-13 all-time lead in the series, winning 23 of the last 26 meetings between the two schools, and 27 of 32 in Chapel Hill.
North Carolina (11-4 SU, 5-7 ATS) hits the hardwood on a four-game winning streak. The Tar Heels have lost just once since opening 4-3, the lone defeat to Texas on Dec. 18 when the Longhorns scored a 78-76 win in Greensboro thanks to a late jumper by freshman Cory Joseph.
Roy Williams' squad will be looking to move to 2-0 in ACC play after beginning the conference portion of their schedule with a 62-56 win at Virginia this past Saturday. Down by seven at the break, UNC got its act together in the second half when the Heels outscored the Cavaliers, 32-19, just missing the 6½-point cover.
The Tar Heels overcame a poor shooting effort, hitting just 37 percent of their field goals, by controlling the offensive glass to set up second chances. North Carolina also held a big 19-8 scoring advantage from the free-throw line, netting just over 70 percent of the charity tosses.
Freshman Harrison Barnes has been very inconsistent for North Carolina, playing reasonably well for stretches during a game but yet to really have a breakout performance. His glass work has slacked off since the early stage of the season, and he's prone to taking ill-advised shots, hitting just 11 of his last 26 field goals.
UNC and Va Tech split their two regular season matchups a year go, each winning at home. The Tar Heels covered as nine-point favorites, 78-64, with the Hokies pushing their four-point line in a 74-70 victory in Blacksburg. Both games finished 'under' the total, but just barely.
ESPN will broadcast the 6 p.m. (PT) tip from the Dean Smith Center, with the Big Ten Purdue-Minnesota contest leading into this ACC battle.
Up next the Tar Heels have a Sunday date in Atlanta with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Virginia Tech returns home with just a day off before hosting Wake Forest on Saturday.