Saturday College Basketball Betting Preview: North Carolina vs. NC State Odds, Picks & Predictions (Feb. 26)
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- The North Carolina Tar Heels (20-8) and NC State Wolfpack (11-17) take the hardwood on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET in the renewal of their storied ACC rivalry.
- Neither program has lived up to its preseason billing this college basketball season, but the Wolfpack's decline has been particularly egregious.
- Why, then, is our college basketball betting analyst advising that you fade the Tar Heels against the moribund Wolfpack? Read on to find out.
North Carolina vs. NC State Odds
|North Carolina Odds|
-110o / -110u
|NC State Odds|
-110o / -110u
After boat racing NC State to a 100-80 victory in their first meeting, UNC now travels to the Wolfpack in a rematch that is a must-win for the Tar Heels.
That’s weird to say for a team that is 20-8 and third in the ACC standings, but remember that UNC was a fringe team to make the tournament not too long ago, and a loss against the Wolfpack would hurt its chances.
UNC has been one of the more unpredictable teams to figure out this season, as it can look elite to complete garbage in a matter of seconds.
NC State, on the other hand, is about ready for this season to end, as it has not been one to remember.
Will NC State look to pack it in as we near the season’s end? Or will they play spoiler to UNC’s March Madness dreams? Let’s find out.
When I watch North Carolina basketball this season, I can’t help but also think of its football team. Both teams have very similar styles of play, as they’re offensive juggernauts that struggle on defense. They also both dominate at home, while severely struggling on the road.
For the ACC’s sake, let’s hope the good UNC shows up, as this is a must-win game for March Madness purposes. The ACC currently has five at-large bids, per Joe Lunardi, with only one being a lock (Duke).
Last time UNC and NC State met up, the Tar Heels’ offense went berserk by shooting 55.6% from 3 and 54.8% from the field. That was one of the rare Tar Heel moments this season when they looked unstoppable and a true threat to the ACC crown.
While the defense has greatly improved since the start of the campaign, it is still a major weakness (94th in AdjD). This is a unit that generates turnovers at one of the lowest rates in college basketball.
While I have abandoned all hope for the defense to make a turnaround, the offense has surprisingly improved with the emergence of Leaky Black. Black was formerly pegged as a future UNC star, but he was never able to fully put it together.
Over the past few games, Leaky has been improving his scoring average, dropping double figures in four of the last nine.
Black brings another versatile scorer to the table that defenses need to focus on, giving some breathing room to Caleb Love, Armando Bacot, Brady Manek and R.J. Davis.
If it weren’t for the NC State Wolfpack handing me my worst loss this football season, I would actually feel bad for their basketball program. The Wolfpack are ranked near dead last in luck, per KenPom, at 326th.
It has been a season to forget for NC State.
Still, this is not a team to take lightly, as it possesses an above-average offense that can keep pace with most squads. The Wolfpack are led by one of the more dangerous scorers in the ACC in guard Dereon Seabron, who is averaging 18 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.
He is accompanied by two other viable scoring options in fellow guard Terquavion Smith and forward Jericole Hellems. Smith averages 15.8 points while Hellems brings in another 13.4 points per game.
While the offense is effective, it is by no means pretty. The Wolfpack actually hit their shots at a very low rate (41.7% from the field) and are near dead last in assists, as well.
While the offense does what they can to put up a fight, it’s the Wolfpack’s defense that has been their Achilles heel this season.
Ranking below average in the nation in AdjD (229th), NC State has found it troubling to cover the perimeter, and constantly allows drives to the basket.
When the Wolfpack aren’t generating steals or blocks to disrupt opposing offenses’ rhythms, they allow scoring outputs at too high of a rate for them to keep pace.
North Carolina vs. NC State Betting Pick
It can’t be overstated how awful North Carolina has looked away from Chapel Hill this season — a trend I see continuing in this matchup.
Don’t forget that while UNC put up 100 on NC State, the Wolfpack still scored 80 of their own, while taking the brunt of UNC’s hot shooting.
Do I see the Wolfpack pulling off the upset? No, but I do believe it is going to be a lot closer than their 20-point loss in the previous matchup.
NC State has a versatile offense — in both the front and backcourt — to give UNC’s struggling defense fits. While the Wolfpack are not the most efficient shooting team, they will get plenty of open looks by forcing the defense in with cuts to the basket.
Fade the Tar Heels in what could be a close one.