College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for Nebraska vs. NC State: Betting Guide to Big Ten/ACC Challenge Game
Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Kevin Keatts
- Nebraska travels to NC State to take on the Wolfpack in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
- The Cornhuskers will be missing one of their top players.
- Jim Root breaks down the game and offers up his best bet.
Nebraska vs. NC State Odds
-110o / -110u
|NC State Odds|
-110o / -110u
The ACC/Big Ten Challenge rolls on! At this point, the ACC is just hoping to avoid getting skunked, as the tally currently sits at 6-2 in favor of the Big Ten.
Stalwarts like Duke and Florida State were dispatched in hostile road environments, and even lowly Minnesota won a road game for the Big Ten (Pitt has some serious soul-searching to do).
Enter NC State, the brave crusader hoping to be a hero for the conference. The Wolfpack are a medium favorite at home, so the expectation is absolutely that they’ll take down the visiting Cornhuskers.
However, nothing has come easy in this Challenge, with two games decided in OT and three others coming down to the final 30 seconds.
Nebraska arrives in Raleigh shorthanded, as key starter Trey McGowens remains out with a broken bone in his foot. That leaves the offense in the hands of baby bro Bryce McGowens and Arizona State transfer Alonzo Verge Jr.
Both have been impressive thus far. McGowens is living at the free throw line while also making 62% of his shots inside the arc. Meanwhile, Verge is third nationally in assist rate.
Fred Hoiberg’s offense asks quite a bit of those two creators, as he is well-known as a transition-reliant, 3-point-heavy strategist. His best teams at Iowa State inverted the floor with skilled bigs like Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim. That opened up the floor and created a utopia of spacing — before it was all the rage in the sport.
Unfortunately, other teams have caught on to that style, and Nebraska’s personnel is simply not of the same quality as the Cyclone teams of yore. Lat Mayen is the only deep threat in the frontcourt and his current 25% conversion rate from downtown scares no one.
Undeterred, Hoiberg continues to push the pace to extreme levels. Nebraska ranks ninth nationally in adjusted tempo, with Verge and McGowens hurtling down the court in an attempt to get easy buckets. Notably, they do take great care of the ball — Nebraska is 20th nationally in turnover rate.
Under Kevin Keatts, the Wolfpack have curated an identity as a pressure-heavy defense that thrives off turnovers.
That approach has been met with mixed results — almost to an extreme. The Wolfpack have been aggressively mediocre in league play, registering a 28-27 record over the past three seasons.
This year, though, Keatts has dialed back the pressure somewhat. This team has (by far) the lowest defensive turnover rate of his Raleigh tenure, instead opting to force foes to hit difficult shots against lanky defenders.
Impressively, the interior defense has remained superb despite the absence of Manny Bates. Arguably the best shot blocker in the country, Bates will miss the entire season with a shoulder injury. Ebenezer Dowuona and Jaylon Gibson have filled in admirably, though neither is anywhere near an offensive threat.
The points come from the electrifying wing corps, with breakout star Dereon Seabron leading the charge (18.8 PPG, 9.7 RPG, shooting over 60% from the field). Keatts’ crew has multiple capable ball-handlers, allowing him to pick on the opponents’ weakest defender(s).
Nebraska vs. NC State Betting Pick
Both teams will look to run in this one, so it’s no surprise to see the total sitting up at 147 at the time of writing.
The officiating will be key, however. Both teams rely heavily on the charity stripe to score efficiently. Nebraska ranks 23rd nationally in free throw rate, while NC State is right behind at 29th. If this one is called tightly, this could be a free throw parade.
If not, though, neither team has the shooting to unlock the other’s defense and open up driving lanes. It’s a risky maneuver, but I am going with the under in this one.
I would play it down to 145, as I think we will not quite see the track meet we might expect considering how Keatts and NC State have pumped the brakes this year.
Pick: Under 147 (Play to 145)
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