North Carolina vs. UNLV College Basketball Odds & Picks: Bet the Talented Tar Heels

North Carolina vs. UNLV College Basketball Odds & Picks: Bet the Talented Tar Heels article feature image
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Streeter Lecka/Getty Images. Pictured: Garrison Brooks.

  • Looking to put the 2019-20 behind them, the North Carolina Tar Heels will face the UNLV Rebels at the Maui Invitational in Asheville, North Carolina on Monday.
  • TJ Otzelberger's teams have found a way to turn it on toward the end of the season, but will his Rebels be able to do the same in November.
  • Mike Randle breaks down the game below and shares a betting pick based on his analysis.

North Carolina vs. UNLV Odds

North Carolina Odds -12.5 [BET NOW]
UNLV Odds +12.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -1150/+730 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 151.5 [BET NOW]
Time Monday, 7 p.m. ET
TV ESPN2
Odds as of Sunday evening and via FanDuel. Get up to a $1,000 risk-free bet at FanDuel today.

North Carolina suffered through an injury-plagued 2019-20 season to finish 14-19, the worst record during head coach Roy Williams’ 17-year reign in Chapel Hill. UNLV, meanwhile, ended the regular season with five straight wins, including an upset of 26-0 San Diego State at home.

Both teams have reloaded, but which one has the edge in this early-season matchup?

North Carolina Tar Heels

Williams is ready to put the 2019-20 season in the rearview mirror. He will do so with a powerful frontcourt balanced by impact freshmen at the guard position.

The Tar Heels will be led inside by 6-foot-9 senior Garrison Brooks (16.8 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game) and 6-foot-10 sophomore Armando Bacot (9.6 points, 8.3 rebounds). Both players are strong on both ends and relentless on the offensive boards.

Five-star recruit Caleb Love inherits the point-guard role and was impressive in the Tar Heels’ opening game. Love posted 17 points, four assists and two steals in 26 minutes.

Love is the headliner of a fantastic recruiting class by Williams that includes fellow starter R.J. Davis (11 points, four rebounds), Day’Ron Sharpe (13 points 10 rebounds), Puff Johnson (three points) and Walker Kessler (six points, four rebounds). This North Carolina team is deep and talented.

In their 79-60 win over a decent Charleston team, the Tar Heels demonstrated their traditional strengths. They out-rebounded the Cougars, 49-34, blocked nine shots and forced 15 turnovers.

North Carolina will try to force the tempo against a new UNLV roster, trying to disrupt the Rebels in the half-court.


UNLV Rebels

Head coach T.J. Otzelberger’s team won six of its last seven regular-season games last season, with the only blemish being an 82-79 home overtime loss to Nevada. The challenge this year, however, is replacing a wealth of scoring.

UNLV will need to account for over 42 points per game from the departed quartet of Amauri Hardy (14.5 points), Elijah Mitrou-Long (12.6 points), Donnie Tillman (10.1 points) and Nick Blair (4.3 points).

The offense centers around junior guard Bryce Hamilton (16 points, 5.5 rebounds), who has made everyone’s preseason All-Mountain West team. He tallied 27 points with eight rebounds and four assists in UNLV’s 91-78 home loss to Montana State.

Otzelberger’s other two key returning players are senior forward Cheikh Mbacke Diong and junior guard Marvin Coleman. Diong averaged 7.7 points and led the team in rebounds at 7.9 per game last season, while Coleman contributed 6.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.

Otzelberger is hoping for a major offensive spark from South Dakota State transfer David Jenkins. As a sophomore, Jenkins averaged 19.7 points while shooting 45.3% (112-of-247) from beyond the arc. He struggled with foul trouble in UNLV’s opener, tallying seven total points on just 1-of-5 shooting on 3-pointers.

The Rebels excelled on the offensive glass, ranking first in Mountain West play last season with a 32.3 offensive rebounding percentage, per KenPom. They will need to stay strong against a North Carolina team that ranked first in the country with an average of 41.9 rebounds per game.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

Otzelberger is a fantastic coach who always has his team playing well at the end of the season. But this early in the season inside the state of North Carolina, the Tar Heels’ talent, depth and style will overwhelm the Rebels.

I’m backing North Carolina as the favorite to wear down an inexperienced UNLV roster.

Pick: North Carolina -12.5 (up to -13.5).

[Bet North Carolina at FanDuel completely risk-free up to $1,000]
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