Pitt will take on North Carolina in a major ACC Tournament semifinal on Friday night.

There’s a lot on the line for both teams in this matchup. The Panthers likely need a win over UNC in order to secure an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. A victory for UNC would give the Tar Heels a great shot at earning a No. 1 seed in this year’s tournament.

Let’s dig into the details of this game:

Pittsburgh vs. North Carolina  Betting Odds

Spread: North Carolina -7.5 (FanDuel)

Total: Over/Under 147.5 points (FanDuel)

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Betting trends to know for Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is…

  • 20-9-3 against the spread
  • 4-5-2 against the spread as an underdog
  • 2-1 against the spread in neutral site games
  • 13-6-2 against the spread in ACC games

Betting trends to know for North Carolina 

North Carolina  is…

  • 19-13 against the spread
  • 17-12 against the spread as a favorite
  • 4-3 against the spread in neutral site games
  • 13-8 against the spread in ACC games

3 notes for the game

North Carolina is red-hot

North Carolina has won 7 games in a row, with most of those victories coming by double-digit margins. Most recently, UNC left no doubt with a 92-67 win over Florida State on Thursday night to advance to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. 

Per BartTorvik, UNC has posted an adjusted offensive rating of at least 125 in each of its last 3 games. The Tar Heels have been one of the best teams in the country overall for the past few weeks and are also bringing an elite defense into this contest.

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Lessons from the first meeting

These teams met in Pittsburgh back in early January. North Carolina took care of business in that game, winning 70-57 on the road. 

The Tar Heels did not have a standout offensive showing in that game. ACC Player of the Year RJ Davis scored only 15 points on 16 shots. Armando Bacot led the team with 16 points but as a team, UNC shot just 39% from the field and 29% from beyond the arc. Pitt’s defense is good (51st nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom), but it’s probably not good enough to shut down the Tar Heels to this extent for a second straight time.

Offensively for Pitt, the Panthers scored just 0.84 points per possession the last time they matched up with Carolina. They’ll likely need to be significantly better than that if they hope to keep this game competitive given how good UNC’s offense has been lately. Pitt took 29 3-points in its last game against UNC, which is one of its highest 3-point totals of the season. However, Pitt only made 5 of those 29 attempts — a number it will surely improve on in this rematch.

A clash of styles

This game will be an interesting matchup of styles, specifically when Carolina is on offense. The Tar Heels like to go fast — their offense is 36th nationally in pace, according to KenPom. Pitt’s defense excels at getting teams to slow down, however, as the Panthers are 301st in pace on that end of the floor. 

EvanMiya is projecting 70.3 possessions in this game, which would seem to favor the Tar Heels. That’s much closer to UNC’s average number of possessions (70.5) than it is to Pitt’s (65.6). The previous meeting between these teams had just a hair under 70 possessions for the game.

Pitt takes 44.5% of its field goal attempts from downtown, which puts the Panthers 32nd nationally in 3-point attempt rate. That introduces a bit of variance into this game (as we saw in the first matchup), so it will be interesting to see UNC’s defense adjust. The Tar Heels have defended the perimeter pretty well this season,  particularly in ACC play. UNC is 1st in 3-point percentage defense (30.7%) against ACC opponents this year. Whoever gets the better of this part of the matchup should be in good shape to win the game.

1 pick for this game

Blake Hinson under 16.5 points (-102 at FanDuel). Hinson has been on fire lately, scoring 19+ points in 4 straight games. But I’m fading his point total here because UNC’s defense is by far the best he’s faced over that span. He’s also been living at the 3-point line (56% over that span), which will be difficult against this UNC defense. Hinson scored just 11 points in Pitt’s previous meeting against UNC and went 2-for-11 from downtown. 

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