The second you try and write off North Carolina, the Tar Heels suck you right back in. Their disappointing regular season is one of the year's biggest surprises. As we enter the final week and gear up for the conference tournaments, North Carolina's still scratching and clawing for the chance to follow up last year's run to the NCAA tournament final. It's been a bizarre year in Chapel Hill. Each letdown or unexplainable loss left me trying to figure out when the Tar Heels would transform into the team we saw last March.
I thought it would click in February until they lost five of six before struggling at Notre Dame in a hard-to-watch 63-59 road win. It was that game, when they trailed 27-19 at halftime, that I declared myself out on the Tar Heels. I may or may not admit to laying six points on UNC as a road favorite, but seeing a team with that talent held to 19 first-half points was enough for me to pack them away until next season.
Of course, once I turned my back on them, the Tar Heels earned their first Quad 1 win by dominating Virginia, 71-63. Sure, Virginia is reeling, but the most encouraging sign was the offense showed the cohesion it previously lacked. Pete Nance benefited from the ball movement with 22 points and was 4-of-4 from 3-point range. Consistency has been a problem all year, so while Florida State isn't a test from a talent perspective, how the Tar Heels handle this road spot will give us more insight into whether they are truly turning the corner. Here are two ways to bet on Monday night's matchup, depending on how much you took away from the Heels' big win over Virginia.
Florida State (+7.5) over North Carolina
There's a chance the Tar Heels have finally turned the corner, but they still don't cover this number. Nevertheless, there were plenty of encouraging signs from Saturday's win over a Virginia team that came in reeling. R.J. Davis removed the tape from his injured finger and found his shooting stroke, hitting 2-of-4 from beyond the arc. The Tar Heels guard, who has battled inconsistency all season, scooped up 10 boards and played confidently and aggressively. For one of the first times this season, we saw North Carolina make the extra pass, mainly when the defense collapsed on Armando Bacot.
I won't rule out finding ways to bet North Carolina soon, but it won't be this game. The Seminoles are coming home with big spoiler energy after a buzzer-beater capped off a massive comeback win over Miami on Saturday. On paper, this should be a Carolina cover (KenPom projects Carolina by 9), but I can't trust the Tar Heels to handle business away from home. They have only covered 11% (1-8-1 ATS) of road games, and playing on a Monday after Saturday only makes it tougher. I wouldn't be surprised if both teams are a little flat, so I will grab the points with the home dog.
Moneyline parlay: North Carolina & Iowa State (+100)
Everybody who bets college basketball knows that home court has been a huge advantage in conference play, resulting in some heavy chalk for the home teams. I'm not a big parlay guy, but I use small two-teamers as a strategy when I think the line is inflated and I'm more confident in the favorite's chances at winning the game outright than covering.
Pairing Iowa State with North Carolina gives us two really motivated favorites. This a big opportunity for the Cyclones to end a three-game losing skid after an embarrassing loss to Oklahoma on their home floor. The 11-point loss was only their second defeat at Hilton Coliseum, where they are 13-2 straight up. I'm comfortable betting they bounce back against West Virginia and avoid consecutive home losses to the bottom two teams in the Big 12. The Mountaineers' defense will throw everything at them, considering they are still on the bubble with a 5-11 conference record, but stealing a win at Iowa State is too much to ask for a team that lost its last four games on the road. Getting the Tar Heels and Cyclones on the moneyline at even money is solid value considering the spot for each team.