North Carolina vs. Pitt Odds
The Pitt Panthers host the North Carolina Tar Heels in a Friday matinee between two ACC squads.
While many other conferences may just be starting conference play, the ACC has already seen each team play at least two games so far.
Pittsburgh and North Carolina may both be 9-4 on the season, but they’ve taken significantly different paths to get there. After starting the season 1-3, the Panthers have won eight of their last nine. Pittsburgh is also 2-0 in conference with impressive road wins at NC State and Syracuse.
North Carolina, on the other hand, rattled off five wins to start the season before dropping its next four. Since then, the Tar Heels have strung together four wins, highlighted by a Quad 1 win over Ohio State in overtime.
The Tar Heels lost their first conference road game at Virginia Tech. Can they avoid the same fate at Pittsburgh?
This year’s North Carolina squad is nearly the same as last years: led by Armando Bacot and Caleb Love. One of the few changes is the addition of Pete Nance, who transferred to Chapel Hill from Northwestern in the offseason. Nance is averaging 11.8 points per game and is second on the team in rebounds behind Bacot.
While North Carolina is still solid on offense, I do have some serious concerns about the Tar Heels. North Carolina’s offensive production is a result of the amount of shots they get up and the desire to push the pace rather than true effective shooting. The Tar Heels are outside the top 100 when it comes to effective field goal percentage.
North Carolina also scores almost all of their points from inside the arc.
Images via CBB Analytics
That could be an issue against a Panthers team that has been elite defensively all over the floor, but especially around the rim.
Images via CBB Analytics
UNC hasn’t seen much help from its bench either, averaging just 12.1 points per game.
In regards to defense, the Tar Heels’ biggest concern will be fouling and defending on the perimeter. Pitt has been the third best team in the ACC when it comes to making 3-pointers per game. North Carolina, alternatively, has been the second worst when it comes to 3-point percentage allowed.
Pitt has been top 100 in the nation in adjusted efficiency at both ends of the floor. However, the Panthers have done so against a non-conference schedule that ranks 287th in strength.
There’s also growing doubt as to whether or not John Hugley will return for the Panthers against North Carolina.
Capel says he’s not sure if John Hugley IV will be available for Friday’s game against North Carolina.
— Noah Hiles (@_NoahHiles) December 28, 2022
North Carolina will be the first major test for a Panthers team facing a gauntlet of a schedule to begin ACC play. The Panthers’ next four games will come against teams that rank in the top 75, per KenPom.
One of the biggest issues for Pittsburgh so far this season has been turnovers. The Panthers turned the ball over on 19.8% of possessions, but the good news for them is that UNC has struggled to force turnovers. The Tar Heels rank outside the top 300, forcing opposing teams to turn the ball over on only 16.2% of possessions.
While I fully expect them to have continued success, Pittsburgh relies almost too heavily on the 3-pointer. If for any reason they can’t get shots to fall from outside the arc against North Carolina, Pittsburgh could be in serious trouble.
North Carolina vs. Pitt Betting Pick
North Carolina lost to Pittsburgh at home last year and then proceeded to win their final five games of the season, which catapulted them into a March Madness run all the way to the National Championship game.
And despite Pittsburgh being without Hugley — their leading scorer and rebounder from a season ago — this team is much better all around then the one that took down Bacot and Co. a year ago in Chapel Hill.
However, I think UNC comes into this game with a vengeance for the nine-point loss they suffered in Chapel Hill a season ago. Four starters from that team returned this year and I don’t doubt for a second they’ve forgotten that game. A Lot of players have stepped up for Pittsburgh in Hugley’s absence, but I’m not sure it will be enough if he can’t go against the Tar Heels.
I’ll be backing the Tar Heels at -6 or better.
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