North Carolina vs. Iowa Odds & Pick: Back the Hawkeyes as Favorites over UNC? (Tuesday, Dec. 8)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Garza.
- The Iowa Hawkeyes host the North Carolina Tar Heels in one of the headilining games of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
- North Carolina may be one of the few teams in the country that can contain Iowa star Luka Garza, but the Tar Heels could be short-handed on Tuesday.
- BJ Cunningham breaks down the game and shares a betting pick below.
North Carolina vs. Iowa Odds
|North Carolina Odds||+4 [BET NOW]|
|Iowa Odds||-4 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+148 / -182 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||156 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. ET|
The headliner of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge takes place in Iowa City on Tuesday night, as the 12th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels battle the No. 3 Iowa Hawkeyes.
Iowa has ultra-high expectations this season, as the best player in college basketball, Luka Garza, decided to stay in Iowa City for his senior season.
Additionally, the Hawkeyes brought back their entire starting five and have one of the deepest and most experienced teams in the country. They’ve cruised through their first three games of the season by beating up on cupcakes, so this is their first big test of the season.
North Carolina is trying to erase the memories of one of the worst seasons of the Roy Williams era last year. Williams responded by bringing in the best recruiting class of his tenure with three top-20 recruits. With their frontcourt returning from last season, the Tar Heels are loaded and a potential threat to win the ACC this year.
North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina started off its season in heartbreaking fashion, losing in the Maui Invitational final to Texas on a last-second jumper from Matt Coleman.
MATT COLEMAN FOR THE WIN 😱
TEXAS ML -116 ✅ pic.twitter.com/xpRs27cRRY
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) December 2, 2020
However, despite the early-season loss, this North Carolina team is loaded with talent. The biggest pieces of its team also returning. Armando Bacot and Garrison Brooks are a dynamic duo in the frontcourt, as both of them almost averaged a double-double last season. They pose a big-time matchup problem for most teams. In fact, North Carolina may be one of the few teams that can guard Garza.
However, they may be without Brooks or only have him in a limited fashion on Tuesday after Williams confirmed he sprained his ankle against Texas.
As far as the newcomers, freshman guard Caleb Love will take over ball-handling duties for the Tar Heels. Love is ultra-talented and headed right for the NBA, as he possesses elite ability at both ends of the floor.
North Carolina also returns a highly-rated recruit from last year in Anthony Harris, who missed most of last season with a torn ACL. However, he is also questionable to play on Tuesday.
If both Harris and Brooks are unable to go, that is going to hamper the Tar Heels’ ability to not only shut down the No. 2 offense in the country, but also to match Iowa offensively.
This is the best team Iowa has had in almost two decades.
The Hawkeyes’ success this season sits on the back of Garza, the preseason Wooden Award favorite. The 6-foot-11 forward has one of the best post arsenals in the game and can step out to knock down shots from anywhere. He’s been so good this season that he’s matched Southern’s first-half total and outscored Western Illinois by himself in the first half.
However, don’t be fooled into thinking Garza is Iowa’s only option. Joe Weiskamp is a dynamic scorer at small forward and will be a matchup problem for North Carolina on Tuesday.
The Hawkeyes are going to win most of their games in the 80s and 90s this season. Last year, Iowa was 97th in defensive efficiency and right around the NCAA average in effective field goal percentage allowed, 2-point field goal percentage allowed, turnover percentage and defensive rebound percentage.
The good news for Iowa is that North Carolina was one of the worst shooting teams in the ACC last season, so if it can keep Bacot and Brooks off the glass, it should be able to hold serve at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Betting Analysis & Pick
If a couple of North Carolina’s key players are unable to go on Tuesday, the Tar Heels are going to be in big trouble. Iowa then would be in a prime position to pick up its first resume-building win of the season.
If Brooks and Harris are unable to play, I project this line at Iowa -6.56, so I think there’s some value on the Hawkeyes at home against a banged-up Tar Heel team.
Pick: Iowa -4 (If Garrison Brooks and Anthony Harris are out) (up to -4.5).