North Carolina vs Pittsburgh Basketball Prediction & Picks: Will the Panthers pull the upset at home?

By | December 30, 2022

The North Carolina Tar Heels aren’t quite back to their best yet, but they have won four straight games to get back on track after being derailed by a four-game losing streak.

This afternoon, they will look to end the year on a high as they visit Pittsburgh, who is looking to do something that the program hasn’t done since Jamie Dixon’s last season.

The matchup between the #25 Tar Heels (9-4, 1-1 ACC) and Panthers (9-4, 2-0 ACC) is set to tip off at noon ET, and you can catch all of the action from the Petersen Events Center on the ACC Network or the ESPN app.

Following a four-game losing streak that culminated with a loss at Virginia Tech in their ACC opener, North Carolina has beaten Georgia Tech, The Citadel, Ohio State, and Michigan and returned to the AP Poll this week.

If they want to be in the first AP Poll of 2023, they will need to pass today’s test against the Panthers, who will be aiming for the program’s first 3-0 start in ACC play since the 2015-16 season, which was Jamie Dixon’s 13th and final season as head coach.

Who will take the win in this ACC clash? Read on for our North Carolina vs Pittsburgh prediction, along with our picks for this afternoon’s matchup.

North Carolina vs Pittsburgh Odds

Game odds are via FanDuel as of Friday, December 30, 2022, at 8:30 am ET. This article may also include odds from our other recommended legal sports betting sites.

Spread

  • North Carolina -6.5 (-110)
  • Pittsburgh +6.5 (-110)

Over/Under

  • Over 150.5 (-106)
  • Under 150.5 (-114)

Moneyline

  • North Carolina -275
  • Pittsburgh +220

Can North Continue to Win with Poor Perimeter Shooting?

Making 15 of 31 threes in their win over The Citadel could have been a springboard for the Tar Heels to put their perimeter shooting woes behind them, but that has not been the case.

In their overtime win over Ohio State, UNC was just 6 of 28 (21.4%) from three. Their 7 of 20 (35%) performance against Michigan last week thus marked a big improvement percentage wise, but it’s still unimpressive.

By comparison, through 13 games last season, the Tar Heels had shot at least 35% from three 10 times, including 40% or better eight times.

This season, they have shot 35% or better from three just three times, with only two games of 40% or better. They shot a season-high 50% against Portland and 48.4% against The Citadel.

However, the Tar Heels have helped themselves during their win streak by sharpening things up with their two-point accuracy.

In their consecutive losses to Iowa State, Alabama, Indiana, and Virginia Tech, North Carolina, they were 86 of 174 (49.4%) on two-point shots.

In their win streak, they have made 92 of 160 (57.5%) two-point shots.

A healthy Armando Bacot is a big, big boost. Bacot missed the loss to Virginia Tech due to injury, but he is averaging 22.3 PPG and 11.0 RPG in UNC’s win streak, and he is shooting 59.3% from the field in this stretch. Against Michigan, he made 11 of 15 shots and had 26 points.

Can the Panthers Continue to be Prolific Offensively?

Last season, Pittsburgh averaged just 61.5 PPG, the third time in four seasons under Jeff Capel that the Panthers averaged under 70 PPG.

But it looks like there’s a lot of reason for optimism on the offensive end, as Pitt is averaging 75.6 PPG.

They opened the season by scoring 80 points in a win over UT Martin, then failed to score 70 points in any of their consecutive losses to West Virginia, Michigan, and VCU.

But in the nine games since, the Panthers have scored 70+ points in all but one game–a 68-60 win over NC State–and 80+ points in six games.

Pittsburgh is a last-second foul at Vanderbilt from having a nine-game win streak, and they come into today’s game with three high-scoring performances in a row.

Scoring 91 points against Sacred Heart or 82 against North Florida won’t move the needle much, but in their last game, they put up 84 points at Syracuse in a two-point win.

The Orange aren’t one of the better teams in the conference, but that is an impressive result, nonetheless.

After missing two full seasons, Hinson is averaging 17.2 PPG and 7.4 RPG in his first season at Pitt.

It’s been a team effort for the Panthers though, who have four players averaging 10+ points per game.

Hinson is one of the transfers making a major immediate impact–Colgate transfer Nelly Cummings and Marquette transfer Greg Elliott are the other two–and the Panthers have five players who have had at least one 20-point game this season.

North Carolina vs Pittsburgh Prediction and Picks

North Carolina vs Pittsburgh Prediction: Pittsburgh to win

North Carolina vs Pittsburgh Pick: Pittsburgh to cover (Best Value: +6.5 @ FanDuel & BetMGM) & Pittsburgh team total over 71.5

Road games during the holiday period can be pretty tricky, and I expect North Carolina to get Pitt’s best shot.

And while the Tar Heels are still scoring a lot of points and putting together some wins despite still not getting it together with their outside shooting, I think they are going to stumble today.

Pitt’s core may be new as a group, but there is a lot of collegiate experience among that group. I don’t think they will get rattled or overawed.

Capel actually owns a winning record against UNC in his Pitt tenure, winning three of five meetings, including a 76-67 win in Chapel Hill last season. Now he actually has what appears to be a pretty decent team on his hands, and I think the former Duke star will receive a nice post-holiday present this afternoon.

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