North Carolina Vs. North Carolina State: Prediction, Picks, Odds (2/19/23)
It’s a changing of the guard in the state of North Carolina this season as the Wolfpack have put together an impressive resume. While NCST has had a successful season, UNC has been in the midst of a rollercoaster with fewer peaks than valleys. Just when I thought they were rounding back into elite form with a clubbing of Clemson, they fell back to earth flat on their face in a loss to Miami. While now firmly on the bubble, can they get a much-needed win on the road against the Wolfpack?
North Carolina Vs. North Carolina State Prediction & Pick
The Pick: North Carolina State -2
Even with Bacot in position to put the Tar Heels on his back, it sadly will not be enough as North Carolina State will blitz the Tar Heels with their scoring pace. Even with both possessing a near pace of play per Adjusted Tempo, North Carolina State will have a massive advantage in fast break opportunities as UNC ranks near dead last in limiting fast break scoring. This spells doom for the Heels as their lack of scoring consistency will haunt them in their efforts to match the pace of scoring.
Especially when their perimeter woes are expected to continue as the Wolfpack are well above average in limiting three-point shooting. North Carolina has seen their fair share of shooting woes from deep, averaging 30.6% as a team. A major reason for this dip in production is from their star perimeter guard in Caleb Love, going through a massive regression this season in three-point shooting. He currently averages 30.4% from three, a massive dip from his earlier campaigns.
It hasn’t been just Caleb Love either. New addition Pete Nance has put together a forgettable year in his sole season as a Tar Heel, throwing a serious wrench in their offense with his lack of production. This is especially disappointing as the acquisition of Nance was expected to be a splash as he filled in for Brady Manek. He’s shooting a lowly 28.7% from the perimeter, looking lost at times in their half court sets.
He has a tendency to hover around the mid-range, settling for low quality looks and leaving an extra body around the interior to battle Bacot for the rebound. His poor shot selection and lack of attacking the boards leave the Tar Heels vulnerable to scoring lulls. With Love and Nance lacking consistency, and RJ serving primarily as a facilitator, this leaves UNC’s offense potentially one dimensional. Bacot can’t carry them past the Wolfpack alone, making their hopes look bleak in saving their season.
North Carolina Vs. North Carolina State Odds)
Oddsmakers have tempered their expectations as they have it at a near pick’em by opening the Tar Heels as a +1.5 underdog. Bettors have even less faith in their ability to salvage their season, backing the Wolfpack up to as high as +2.5 as of writing. Both teams rank relatively close to each other in both Adjusted Offense and Defense, making this matchup very intriguing. There will be no shortage of star power either, both containing lethal scorers who are capable of lighting up the board in a hurry.
Speaking of lighting it up in a hurry, oddsmakers believe points will be scored at a blistering pace as they opened the total at 152. Bettors believe elsewise, backing the under down to 151.5 in some shops. This movement comes as a bit of surprise as both have glaring holes on the defensive end. UNC struggles in limiting fast break scoring while NCST is prone to being weak at defending the interior. Bacot is poised for a massive game.
North Carolina Vs. North Carolina State Key Matchups
Can UNC limit the Wolfpack offense in the halfcourt?
NCST guard production vs UNC perimeter defense
Not only are the Tar Heels one of the worst transitional defensive units in basketball, they also mightily struggle against opposing guards. This bodes well for NCST as their top three scorers all reside in the guard position.
Their main weakness up top is their inability to limit the pick and roll. Constantly scrambling, unable to fill the gap from either the screener or cutter and giving them a wide-open look. Smith, Joiner, and Morsell are all poised for open looks at the rim throughout the full course of the game, continuing the brunt of the Wolfpacks scoring.
Back the home favorites as UNC simply does not have enough offensive firepower to keep up with the Wolfpack in scoring pace. Should the Tar Heels continue their tendencies of poor shot selections, then look for the Wolfpack to get out fast and put-up points in a hurry.