Pitt vs North Carolina Odds & Picks: Panthers to Cover as Underdogs?

Pitt vs North Carolina Odds & Picks: Panthers to Cover as Underdogs? article feature image

Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Kedon Slovis & Israel Abanikanda (Pitt)

  • The Pitt Panthers head to Chapel Hill to play the North Carolina Tar Heels in a Saturday night ACC matchup.
  • The Tar Heels enter as short favorites, but Cooper Van Tatenhove sees betting value in the underdog Panthers.
  • Check out Van Tatenhove's full betting guide and pick for Saturday's ACC matchup below.

Pitt vs North Carolina Odds

Saturday, Oct. 29
8 p.m. ET
ACC Network
Pitt Odds
-110o / -110u
North Carolina Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

North Carolina returns from a bye week looking to keep its ACC Coastal title hopes alive against a Pittsburgh team struggling to find a balanced offensive attack.

In a series that UNC leads 10-5 overall, this year’s outcome will go a long way in determining the race for the ACC Coastal crown, as UNC sits at 6-1 overall with a perfect 3-0 in conference.

12 of the last 15 matchups between these two teams have been decided by a TD or less, a trend that Vegas thinks will continue, as UNC is a short home favorite of -3.

Will UNC continue its massive struggles on defense and give Pitt quarterback Kedon Slovis the rhythm he needs to find consistent success? Or will Drake Maye and the potent UNC offense be able to once again make up for the defense’s shortcomings?

Pittsburgh Panthers

Slovis has struggled mightily to provide Pittsburgh with any type of passing attack to match its successful rushing game led by Israel Abanikanda.

Adanikanda has 959 yards on 157 attempts for an average of 6.1 YPC, which is good for fourth nationally.


i repeat


— ACC Football (@ACCFootball) October 8, 2022

These types of numbers will continue against a UNC defense that has given up a Success Rate of 46.6% against the rush, which ranks 120th nationally.

Although effective, this Rush Rate (57.3%) will need to be accompanied by a consistent passing attack in order to keep up with a UNC offense that is 17th nationally in seconds per play. The Tar Heels combine their lightning-fast play style with 3.39 net points per drive.

In order to produce an offense that can keep up with the Tar Heels' level of production, Pittsburgh will need improved play from Slovis.

In the six games he has started, Slovis has only accounted for three Big Time Throws to go with five interceptions, two of which were recorded last week against Louisville.

If there is ever a game for Slovis to find a flow offensively, it is against a Tar Heels defense that is outside the top 100 in Passing Success Rate.

Although stagnant at times, Pittsburgh's offense has been effective at staying ahead of the chains so far this year. The Panthers rank 23rd in Early Down EPA. This early-down success combined with their potent rushing attack will open things up for Slovis.

Additionally, the Tar Heels' defense ranks outside the top 100 in net points per drive given up.

If the Tar Heels attempt to stop Abanikanda and the rushing attack, look for there to be opportunities early and often for Slovis to ramp up this Pittsburgh offense from both a plays per second and net points per drive perspective.

Even against teams that do not have a playmaker on par with Abanikanda, the Tar Heels have struggled.

The get-right game that this Pittsburgh offense has been searching for is in front of it on Saturday.

North Carolina Tar Heels

The Tar Heels come into this matchup a perfect 3-0 in ACC play, causing them to have their sights laser-focused on an ACC Coastal title.

So far this season, the Tar Heels have relied on the sensational play of their freshman quarterback Maye.

Maye has amassed 2,283 total passing yards to go with 24 total touchdowns and only three interceptions. Maye’s 24 touchdowns trail only Heisman front-runner C.J Stroud.

These type of numbers from their quarterback has resulted in the Tar Heels possessing one of the most efficient offenses in the country.

UNC ranks fourth nationally in offensive EPA Margin at .268, which has resulted in the Tar Heels posting 5.3 points per scoring opportunity.

Given their stellar quarterback play, the Tar Heels' offense derives most of its success from the passing game. UNC has a Passing Success Rate of 51% as opposed to 43.8% rushing.

This level of passing success is catalyzed by the Tar Heels' ability to create explosive plays through the air. UNC has posted a 1.87 Explosiveness ranking passing so far this season.

On Saturday night, Maye and this UNC offense will face a Pittsburgh defense that has success limiting teams through the air.

Pittsburgh’s defense ranks fourth nationally in EPA per Pass at -0.279, which is an area that UNC has a massive advantage over most teams.

Overall, Pittsburgh’s defense allows only a 32.6% Success Rate against the pass, which is ninthnationally.

Earlier this season, Pittsburgh was tasked with stopping a similar offensive attack in Tennessee. Although the Panthers lost in overtime, Pittsburgh was able to hold the Volunteers to just three second-half points and a 30% Passing Success Rate.

The high-paced, pass-heavy offense the Tar Heels possess is a scheme that Pittsburgh will be familiar with.

Because of the numbers the UNC defense has given up all year, the Tar Heels have been forced to be extremely efficient on offense to reach their current record of 6-1.

Pittsburgh’s defensive make-up will give the Panthers multiple opportunities to hinder this offensive efficiency.

Without an extremely efficient game on the offensive side of the ball, UNC will not be able to get enough production from its defense to cover the number at home.

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Pitt vs North Carolina Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Pitt and North Carolina match up statistically:

Pitt Offense vs. North Carolina Defense
Rush Success54126
Line Yards56118
Pass Success79110
Pass Blocking**6232
Finishing Drives96109
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

North Carolina Offense vs. Pitt Defense
Rush Success5722
Line Yards6911
Pass Success1322
Pass Blocking**7139
Finishing Drives448
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling1937
PFF Coverage9101
SP+ Special Teams12129
Seconds per Play28.8 (112)23.4 (17)
Rush Rate57.3% (40)51.9% (76)
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Pitt vs North Carolina Betting Pick

Pittsburgh laying three points on the road has the most value in a matchup that will be defined by which team can produce the most stops defensively.

UNC's defense has been torched all season, and will not be able to handle Abanikanda and the Panthers' rushing attack. This success on the ground will open up a multitude of opportunities for the rest of the Pittsburgh offense and Slovis.

For UNC to cover the number in this game, it will need to be nearly perfect offensively. Pittsburgh's defense, particularly its secondary, will be able to create problems for Maye.

The Panthers generate a 10% Havoc rate from their defensive backs, which, along with their overall defensive scheme, will slow down this UNC offense enough for Pittsburgh to stay within the number and possibly steal a win on the road.

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