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Notre Dame vs UNC Odds, Prediction: Betting Value on Underdog?

Notre Dame vs UNC Odds, Prediction: Betting Value on Underdog? article feature image
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Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: J.J. Starling (Notre Dame)

Notre Dame vs UNC Odds

Saturday, Jan. 7
11:30 a.m. ET
ESPN2
Notre Dame Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+13.5
-110
144.5
-110o / -110u
+740
North Carolina Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-13.5
-110
144.5
-110o / -110u
-1200
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

The ACC is a mess right now.

Some of the expected favorites have disappointed, the middle of the pack is murky and cluttered and the bottom dwellers have some eye-popping losses.

That makes every game in the conference a little bit more intriguing, with uncertainty leading to some real opportunity.

North Carolina, despite its struggles, has a path back to the top of the standings.

Notre Dame has been slow out of the gates, but has the experience to rebound.

Which of these teams can secure a win early in Saturday’s action-packed slate?


Notre Dame Fighting Irish

It’s been a weird season in South Bend.

Mike Brey returned four of the key pillars from a team that reached the Round of 32 in the NCAA tournament as an 11 seed, yet there’s almost no talent beyond that core.

Freshman J.J. Starling has stepped into Blake Wesley’s role in the backcourt for the Irish, surrounded by four seniors in the starting lineup.

That starting lineup has barely left the floor for Brey.

Notre Dame has played the fewest bench minutes in the country this year and its starters have played the most possessions together of any five-man unit in college basketball.

From on-off numbers from Hoop-Explorer, the Irish starters have played together as a unit for about 450 possessions, and Brey has turned to any other combination of players (including four starters with one reserve) for a total of about 490 possessions.

The differences are negligible on the offensive end, though Notre Dame sees a jump in defensive rating of more than 4.5 points per 100 possessions defensively.

When even one starter heads to the bench, the Irish foul more often, allow more penetration and surrender more easy baskets.

A team with the third-most college basketball experience (per KenPom) and four senior starters should not be losing seven of 10 games early in the season.

A record of 3-7 against KenPom top-200 teams is not befitting of a power-conference team with this track record, and the Irish’ porous defense — ranked 221st nationally — is to blame.

Opponents are able to work for easy buckets far too often, leading to a top-10 percentage of points scored inside the arc.

North Carolina Tar Heels

It would be easy to hit the panic button on North Carolina’s season so far, especially after the Heels started as the top-ranked team in the preseason AP Poll.

That’s likely premature, given that Carolina has yet to lose a home game and has not lost to a team ranked lower than 63rd by KenPom.

While panic may not be needed, concern has risen. The Tar Heels are 10-5, just 2-2 in ACC play.

At times, Carolina has looked a lot more like the team that entered March Madness with nine losses last season than the team that nabbed five straight wins en route to the title game.

The backcourt duo of Caleb Love and R.J. Davis continues to be streaky and inefficient, making just 29% from long range on almost 12 attempts per game.

Bigger issues have come defensively, where the Heels rank 77th in the nation. A shallow bench has left Hubert Davis with limited options on that end of the floor, forcing Carolina into uncomfortable positions at times.

North Carolina has played the third-lowest percentage of bench minutes this season, though the Irish are last in the nation in that metric.

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Notre Dame vs UNC Betting Pick

In theory, this should be a get-right game for Carolina and put the Heels back on track to compete for an ACC title.

Things don’t always work out in theory.

Notre Dame should provide an interesting test for the North Carolina defense, with shooting big man Nate Laszewski stretching Armando Bacot away from the basket, though it’s hard to see Laszewski being able to control Bacot on the block on the other end.

The over is intriguing — given the state of the two teams defensively — but I worry that two coaches with shallow benches will keep to a slow pace.

Perhaps most importantly, the game tips at 11:30 a.m. local time. That can lead to some curveball results.

Since 2010, road dogs have held up well in games that start before noon, with a record of 56-32-1 ATS. Maybe there’s something different about getting out of your own bed with an early wake-up call.

Image Via Bet Labs

In general, I’ve been fading this North Carolina team, and that piece of research feels like enough reason to take the Irish and the points here.

Pick: Notre Dame +12.5 (Play to +12)

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