North Carolina vs. Wisconsin Odds, Pick, Prediction: Friday’s Betting Value On Tar Heels in NCAA Tournament

North Carolina vs. Wisconsin Odds, Pick, Prediction: Friday’s Betting Value On Tar Heels in NCAA Tournament article feature image

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: Caleb Love.

  • Two perennial powers of college basketball meet on Friday night, as North Carolina and Wisconsin face off in Indy.
  • The Tar Heels’ size presents an issue for any team, and the Badgers will have trouble scoring in the paint against UNC.
  • Our staff breaks down the matchup and delivers a betting pick for the first round’s highest-profile 8-9 matchup.

North Carolina vs. Wisconsin Odds

North Carolina Odds-1
Wisconsin Odds+1
Moneyline-115 / -105
TimeFriday, 7:10 p.m. ET
Odds as of Thursday evening and via BetMGM.

Our second of four 8-9 matchups will happen at 7:10 p.m. ET on CBS, and it’ll be a rock fight between a middling ACC team and a middling Big Ten team.

Both North Carolina and Wisconsin earned an automatic qualifier after finishing in the middle of their respective conference standings.

Both teams are also more defensive-minded than offensive-minded, which should make for a close-fought battle.

However, there’s one team in this matchup that’s been playing at a much higher level recently than the other.

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North Carolina

BJ Cunningham: North Carolina really only does one thing well offensively, but it does it better than anyone else in the country: offensive rebounding.

The Tar Heels have an amazing frontcourt with Armando Bacot and Garrison Brooks. The duo has led UNC to the best offensive rebounding percentage in the country.

However, North Carolina was one of the worst shooting teams in the ACC this season, hitting only 31.7% from 3-point range and 48.9% from inside the arc.

The Tar Heels have all freshmen in their backcourt, and they’ve played like freshmen this season because they have the highest turnover rate in the ACC.

North Carolina does get to the free-throw line at a high rate, but it hits only 66.8% of its free throws. So, a lot of the Tar Heels' points have to come off of second-chance opportunities.

Defensively, North Carolina is really difficult to break down.

With two monsters in the frontcourt, teams haven’t found a way to score inside, as the Tar Heels allow only 46.8% from 2-point range and have the 26th-highest block rate in the country.

The way to beat North Carolina’s defense is from behind the arc.

The Tar Heels are giving up almost 35% from behind the arc and 34% of opposing teams' points this season have come from 3-point range, which is well above the NCAA average.

Wisconsin not only jacks 3s up at a high rate, but it also hits a high percentage, so this could be a bad matchup for North Carolina defensively.


Tanner McGrath: Wisconsin was, from the jump, the most overrated and overhyped team in the Big Ten.

After starting the season 12-3 and 6-2 in conference play, the Badgers finished the season at 16-11 and 10-10 in conference play. During that stretch, the team went 4-8 straight up and 5-7 against the spread. In the past 10 games, the Badgers are 3-7 SU and ATS. Wisconsin finished the season 5-10 in Quad 1 opportunities with just one win against KenPom top-25 teams (Loyola Chicago on Dec. 15).

The Badgers play decent defense, but struggle offensively, especially on the interior. The only way Wisconsin can score is from beyond the arc, where they attempt nearly 25 3s per game and make them at a 36% clip.

Wisconsin scores more than 40% of its total points from deep because the Badgers shoot just 46.3% from 2-point range, which ranks around 300th in the country. The interior combination of Micah Potter and Tyler Wahl just didn’t pan out this season.

D’Mitrik Trice is the lone bright spot for this dreary Badger team. He averages over 13 points per game and has scored 20-plus a few times this season. But, overall, I don’t expect Wisconsin to make any noise this March.

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Matchup & Betting Analysis

Tanner McGrath: Simply put, North Carolina has been playing much better than Wisconsin recently.

North Carolina comes into this game having won six of its last nine, and it’s 4-0-1 ATS in its last five. It recorded wins over Louisville, Florida State, Duke and Virginia Tech over that span and lost its last game to Florida State by just three points.

Meanwhile — as mentioned above — Wisconsin has been skidding. Over their past 10 games, the Badgers have recorded wins over only Nebraska, Northwestern and Penn State.

Also, North Carolina’s defense has really rounded into form. Since Feb. 19, or one month ago today, North Carolina ranks eighth in the country in defensive efficiency, per Torvik.

In theory, Wisconsin’s 3-point shooting ability should be an advantage over a Tar Heel team that struggles to defend the perimeter. However, over this past month, North Carolina’s defensive 3-point percentage is just 28.6% — a full eight points lower than its season-long mark.

I’m expecting Roy Williams and the surging Tar Heel defense to outplay Greg Gard and the skidding Badgers. I’d play North Carolina up to -2.5.

Pick: North Carolina -1 (up to -2.5).

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