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February 14, 2015 (Posted at 11:00 AM ET)

There are two picks today.

#1: Take South Florida at +6 spread against Memphis U risking 3%

The Tigers travel to the USF Sun Dome to take on the South Florida Bulls this afternoon. The Memphis Tigers come into this contest having lost 3 of their last 4 games, with their most recent win coming against a lowly Jacksonville St team. The Tigers have also struggled on the road this season, dropping 4 of their 6 game on the highway. This is a team that has been struggling recently and things likely won't get much better for the Tigers as it was recently determined that their best all-around player, Austin Nichols will miss 2 weeks with an Achilles injury. Memphis had struggled offensively in the early part of the season but had been finding their rhythm as of late, the loss of Nichols is likely to have profound effects on the Tiger's offensive production. On the season, Memphis had only been averaging 58 points on the road and that number is likely to be even less with Nichols on the sideline. 

The South Florida Bulls have not been a great team this season. They have lost 10 straight and while many would see that as a sign to completely stay away from a team, we often find that is it the time where the most value presents itself. There is no doubt that this team is tired of losing and is hungry for a victory. This afternoon’s matchup provides a great opportunity for them to pick up that much needed win against a wounded Memphis team. Just because the Bulls haven't been winning games, doesn't mean that they don't have talent. Corey Allen Jr. is averaging 15.5 points and 2.6 assists while Anthony Collins is averaging 7.6 points and 5.1 assists for the Bulls. 

A strength of Memphis this season has been their defense of the perimeter. They have allowed teams to shoot just 30% from long range this season and while that has been key to them grabbing a majority of their victories, long range shooting is not a strength of the Bulls. South Florida will likely have success inside the paint and from mid-range. We have seen South Florida get off to quality starts this season only to fade in the second half. If South Florida can once again start fast and establish a pace, the lack of offense by the Tigers on the road this season will make it tough for them to cover this number. With the Bulls at home, they should do enough to at the very least keep this game close. While Memphis may indeed pull out a win, we believe this is too many points for them to lay with their best player still on the sideline. The Bulls should keep this game within two possessions. 

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Memphis is 0-4 ATS in their last 4 road games! 
  • South Florida is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after not covering the spread.
  • Memphis is 0-3 ATS in road games where the total has been 120 to 129.5 this season. 

#2: Take Pittsburgh at +4 spread against North Carolina risking 3%

The North Carolina Tar Heels will take to the road this afternoon to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers in an important ACC matchup. 

The Tar Heels players likely come into this game with a heavy heart as news broke earlier this week of the passing of former UNC coach Dean Smith. While none of the currently players were on the team during the Smith era, there is still the outside distraction around campus of having one of the University's most beloved coaches pass. The Tar Heels also have a big game coming up on Wednesday against their in state rivals, the Duke Blue Devils. The UNC / Duke rivalry is one of the biggest in college basketball and the players are no doubt gearing up for that game. With Coach Smith passing and the Duke game on deck, the question has to be asked about how much actual focus the players have on Pittsburgh heading into this contest. Pittsburgh is an extremely dangerous team, especially at home. The Petersen Events Center is one of the toughest venues to play in all of college basketball; they are 12-2 on their home court this season! The Panthers have already shown that they are not intimated by facing a ranked team in this building as they recently disposed of (at the time) #8 ranked Notre Dame.

The Pittsburgh Panthers are not a team that does anything especially great, but they are a sound and balanced team. They can shoot, they can rebound and they can defend. Due to their style of play, they have been in a lot of closely contested game this season. They recently had their 3 game winning streak snapped with a loss on the road to the #9 ranked Louisville Cardinals. Pittsburgh is currently on the bubble at the moment in terms of the NCAA tournament, so a win this afternoon over a ranked UNC team could potentially go a long way in the committee's eyes! 

The Panthers are a team that we feel simply matches up well with the style of play that UNC tries to employ. This is the first meeting between these teams this season, but these teams met twice last season. Pittsburgh managed to grab an 80-75 victory over the Tar Heels on a neutral court in the most recently meeting while UNC grabbed a narrow 4 point victory earlier in the season in Chapel Hills so Pittsburgh has shown their ability to not only keep games close with the Tar Heels, but also what it takes to beat them. Because UNC has been so efficient on the offensive side of the ball, they have been a team that typically doesn't play solid defense. That could pose an issue this afternoon. The way to beat this UNC team is by attacking the basket. The Tar Heels are an incredibly sound rebounding team, which mean that the Panthers shouldn't settle for outside jump shots. Attacking the rim will force the Tar Heels to collapse the defense down low and create contact. This will send the Panthers to the line frequently while also creating foul trouble for the Heels. Looking at the teams that have beaten UNC this season, the likes of Virginia, Louisville, Kentucky, all of these teams have had success down low and in the lane. 

If Pittsburgh used the blueprint that has been laid in front of them on how to beat this UNC team, we believe this will be a closely contested game and wouldn't be surprised if Pitt caught the Tar Heels looking ahead to the Duke game and won outright. The home crowd will be fired up to see the Panthers potentially knock off another ranked team in this venue! That should allow them to keep things close. Even if Pittsburgh fails to get the outright win, UNC has struggled at the charity stripe when closing games out and the points are therefore likely to come into play. 

Other notable facts to consider:

  • UNC is just 2-7-1 ATS in their last 10 games. 
  • UNC is just 3-12-1 ATS in their last 16 games vs the ACC!
  • UNC is 0-6-1 ATS in their last seven games against a team with a winning record!

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