Last Updated Jun 18, 2022, 1:31 PM

UNC vs. Pittsburgh Predictions, Odds

  • January 26, 2021
  • By Thom Cunningham

The North Carolina Tar Heels look to win on the road, taking on the Pittsburgh Panthers in what feels like a March Madness bubble game. Tip is set for 7 p.m. (ET) and will air on the ACC Network.



North Carolina-Pittsburgh Betting Odds

Line Movements

  • Spread: North Carolina -2
  • Money-Line: UNC -165 Pittsburgh +145
  • Total: 142.5

Odds Subject to Change

The UNC Tar Heels enter as road favorites, given a -2-point spread. UNC has failed to cover 10 of its last 15 games this season, while Pittsburgh has covered seven of 11 games.

The point total is set at 142.5, which UNC tends to go UNDER on. The Tar Heels have gone UNDER in nine of its last 15 games, while Pitt is nearly split with a 6-5 O/U this year.

Betting Analysis – North Carolina Tar Heels

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 10-5
  • ATS: 5-9-1
  • SU - Home: 6-1
  • SU - Away: 4-4
  • O/U: 6-9

UNC is on a current two-game winning streak, along with winning five of its last six games. None of the wins have been overly impressive, however. Still, this is a young team learning on the fly and seemingly getting better as the season progresses (something Duke and Kentucky wish they had).

Armando Bacot has seen the most consistent progression this season, now leading the Tar Heels in points and rebounds per game. Day'Ron Sharpe averages 7.7 rebounds a game, which is tied with Bacot's total. Between those two and senior Garrison Brooks averaging 7.1 per game, its easy to see why UNC is the top-ranked school nationally in rebounds per game (43.5).

This is where our ACC Tuesday night evening leads us, to a battle on the boards (will get to Pitt in a minute). This game will more than likely be won by the team that has the most second-chance opportunities, as North Carolina averages 15.7 offensive rebounds per game. Needless to say, that ranks as the nation's best.

Caleb Love is coming into his own as the team's top scoring option as well, now with 10.5 points per game. The freshman has scored a double-digit point total in three straight games after scoring eight points or fewer in four straight prior. If UNC can win the battle on the glass, and get a good showing from Love and Bacot offensively, then the Tar Heels can win.

Long term picture, UNC is still a work in progress. The intrigue with Roy Williams' club lies with its potential. Keep an eye on this team as March rolls around, because as young and talented as they are the Tar Heels are getting noticeably better.

Betting Analysis – Pittsburgh Panthers

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • SU: 8-3
  • ATS: 7-4
  • SU - Home: 5-2
  • SU - Away: 3-1
  • O/U: 6-5

Justin Champagnie might be the best player in the ACC. He can take over any game, averaging a double-double which includes 19.9 points per game. He leads this Pitt offense along with Au'Diese Toney and Xavier Johnson, who each average 14.5 points per game or more.

We just spent nearly five paragraphs praising the UNC rebounding, but Pitt can and will compete with the Tar Heels. As good as UNC is on the glass, the Panthers average 42.3 rebounds per game which ranks seventh nationally. Also, Pitt pulls in more defensive rebounds than UNC - which typically means they force more bad shots on defense.

Pitt averages 13.5 offensive rebounds per game (14th nationally) and 28.7 defensive rebounds per game (26th nationally).

As you can see, the strengths for both schools lies on the glass - so the board battle is where this game will be won or lost. This will be the big men's game to lose, but the stand out stat is actually seeing Pitt with three players that average 1.3 or more steals per game.

Because the glass battle may cancel out, this game then comes down to Caleb Love's scoring vs. the Panthers' trio and their ability to get steals. If Pitt can force Love to turn the ball over, while neutralizing the glass game, then Pitt should be fine in winning against a young team that is just 4-4 on the road.

Inside the Stats – North Carolina Tar Heels

  • PS/G: 74.5 (121st)
  • PA/G: 70.2 (177th)
  • Off Rtg: 102.9 (159th)
  • Def Rtg: 97.1 (134th)

Inside the Stats – Pittsburgh Panthers

  • PS/G: 74.3 (128th)
  • PA/G: 67 (94th)
  • Off Rtg: 104.1 (136th)
  • Def Rtg: 93.9 (75th)

Key Players to Watch

  • UNC - Armando Bacot (12 PPG, 7.7 RPG)
  • UNC - Caleb Love (10.5 PPG)
  • PITT - Justin Champagnie (19.9 PPG, 12.4 RPG)
  • PITT - Au'Diese Toney (16 PPG, 6.7 RPG)

North Carolina-Pittsburgh Predictions

It's tough to go against Pitt at home, especially with the best player on the court. UNC has seen at least one team touch 80 points in four straight games. With the point total hovering 140 territory, consider the OVER here.

One team touching 80 points will see the point total go OVER, so consider that market despite UNC's 6-9 O/U. Typically I recommend the odds, but seeing UNC allow a team to touch 80 points in four straight is playing the trend instead.

With a two-point spread, this game is essentially a pick em. Feel free to wait on a live bet for better value on the team you like more. This should be a back-and-forth battle, so you should be able to find plus-value at some point for both teams.

Between the two, though, Pitt at home given the points seems to be better. UNC has covered just five times this season, so opposite of the point total market try playing the odds for the spread market.

Champagnie should take over and win this game at some point, but the best recommendation here is to take the OVER and live bet the winner when you can get plus-value.

  • Score Prediction: UNC 79 Pittsburgh 78
  • Best Bets: OVER

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