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No. 7 UNC is a double-digit favorite over No. 17 UCLA

UNC vs UCLA Betting Odds

The Las Vegas Invitational is coming to a close as the No. 7 North Carolina Tar Heels are colliding with the No. 17 UCLA Bruins. With two ranked teams meeting in a tournament, you would assume it’s the final, but both schools are coming off losses and this is the consolation final. UNC won the last meeting vs UCLA in 2015 and is a 10-point favorite tonight with the total opening at 168.5.

Shark Bites
  • The total has gone UNDER in UCLA’s last three games (avg. combined score: 150.67).
  • North Carolina is 3-1 SU and ATS in its last four games with no days off between games.
  • UCLA is 1-4 SU and 0-5 ATS in its last five games vs the Atlantic Coast.

UNC vs UCLA Game Center

Tar Heels look to flex their offensive muscles

North Carolina is coming off its first loss of the season, falling to unranked Texas 92-89 last night. It took a career-high 32 points from Texas senior guard Kerwin Roach II to secure that triumph. Conversely, 2018 All-American UNC freshman guard Coby White stood toe-to-toe with Roach as he scored a game-high 33 points, including shooting 7-for-10 from beyond the arc – his previous career high was 16 points three days prior. The offense hasn’t been an issue at all this season for UNC as it ranks in a tie with Gonzaga at 97 points per game, which is the best in the nation.

Although the Tar Heels did a good job shooting the triple against the Longhorns last night (11-for-29), on average they take just 22.7 three-point attempts per game, representing 32.0 percent of their total shots from the floor. Overall, UNC averages 81.5 possessions per game, which is the ninth-most in the nation and has led to the Tar Heels taking the fourth-most field-goal attempts per game.

The Bruins are coming off a beatdown

UCLA was flying high heading into its toughest test of the season last night vs No. 11 Michigan State and had a rude awakening as it fell 87-67. There was hype before the game with two high-scoring teams colliding but the Spartans’ defense came out to play, holding Bruins five-star recruit Moses Brown to just five points – the first time he hasn’t scored double-digit points. UCLA is shooting 48.8 percent this season but hit just 35.6 percent of its shots last night, while failing to contain Michigan State beyond the arc as the Spartans shot 54.2 percent on their triples.

The Bruins like to rely on their big men to contribute offensively as Kris Wilkes, Moses Brown and Chris Smith – all six-foot-eight or taller – are three of the top four scorers on the team and the team averages 50 points per game inside the arc, which is the seventh-most in the nation. UCLA does a good job defending two-pointers, allowing 30.4 points per game inside the arc, but it is up against a UNC team that leads the nation averaging 55.7 points from two-pointers this season.

Is the UNDER the bet to make tonight?

UNC ranks in a tie for most points per game in the nation this season, while UCLA averages the 21st-most points per game and BetOnline has tonight’s total opening at 168 points. Neither team shoots well from beyond the arc with the two teams averaging a combined 15.2 treys per game, so it’ll be a battle around the rim. The Tar Heels average the most two-pointers per game in college basketball, while the Bruins score the seventh-most two-pointers.

Defensively, UNC allows 33.7 points per game inside the arc, which is the 137th-fewest, and UCLA does a better job, giving up just 30.4 points per game inside the arc, ranking in a tie for 58th. I think 168.5 points is a lot to get to, especially when both teams play a similar style working the ball inside trying to find points, and I think the UNDER is the bet to make.

My take on UNC vs UCLA

I like UNC to cover the 10-point spread tonight. UCLA can’t defend the three-ball and although UNC doesn’t take many shots from beyond the arc, it showed last night that it can and overall it shoots better from out there than the Bruins do. Additionally, both teams like to score from inside the arc with the Tar Heels leading the nation and the Bruins not far behind in seventh. I think there could be a lot of fouls because of this and UNC shoots 75.9 percent from the charity stripe while UCLA hits only 63.4 percent of its free-throw shots. Overall, I think the Tar Heels’ speed in transition will get the best of the Bruins and they should cruise to victory.