The Tar Heels (7-4) have free fallen from a former #1 spot in the country all the way out of the Top 25 following losses in four of their last six games. Despite taking that dive, oddsmakers still have UNC a -2.5 favorite in Saturday afternoon’s North Carolina vs Ohio State betting matchup despite the fact that the 7-2 Buckeyes are up to #23 in the nation.
OSU did get things handed to them in their other meeting with an ACC team, losing 81-72 at Duke on November 30th. That game was at Cameron Indoor Stadium though, and Saturday’s contest is part of the CBS Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden. The neutral site also helps the Tar Heels though, as they’re 0-2 in their only two true road games this season.
North Carolina Seems to Be Getting Right
The Tar Heels had a four game losing streak that dropped them out of the top 25, but it was also a gauntlet of four tough games. UNC’s poor stretch started off with a 70-65 loss to Iowa State and then falling 103-101 in 4OT to Alabama, both games part of the Phil Knight Invitational. The struggles continued in a 77-65 loss at Indiana and then with an 80-72 defeat at Virginia Tech.
Alabama is ranked #4 in the country and Indiana #14 while both Virginia Tech and Iowa State have made their way inside the top 25 this season so at least UNC lost against quality teams. The only problem with that is the Buckeyes are a good club too ahead of the North Carolina vs Ohio State betting matchup.
North Carolina has also put their losing streak behind them a bit, beating Georgia Tech 75-59 and topping Citadel 100-67 to cover a -13.5 and -27 point spread respectively. Armando Bacot has grabbed double-digit rebounds in six of the last seven, RJ Davis had 22/10 vs. the Yellow Jackets, and Caleb Love has had 17+ in two of the last three while also scoring 34 against the Crimson Tide.
Buckeyes Try to Make a Statement
Ohio State has to have a chip on their shoulder being an underdog against an unranked team on a neutral court – even if that opponent is the former #1 team in the country. The Buckeyes had a nice trip to the Maui Invitational where they won two games including beating #21 Texas Tech, but have also tripped up against Duke in the ACC/Big Ten challenge and struggled to a 67-66 win over Rutgers in the conference opener.
Ohio State has been off since their 1-point win over the Scarlet Knights on December 8th, missing out on valuable non-conference opportunities to try and work in more reps for this young team that is led by some young players such as Brice Sensabaugh (14.1 ppg), and Bruce Thornton (9.9 ppg) both freshman.
Free North Carolina vs Ohio State Betting Pick
The Buckeyes do have some veterans mixed in with their youngsters too, as junior Zed Key leads the team with 14.3 ppg and has gone for 20+ in two of the last three. Senior Justice Sueing had 33 to lead the win over Texas Tech but this is an extremely talented and experienced UNC squad that returns around 70% of their minutes from last year’s Final Four club. Have to go Tar Heels here.
Pick: North Carolina -2.5