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North Carolina, Pitt Headed for a Defensive Struggle

Shocky Jacques-Louis NCAAF Football Betting Preview North Carolina Tar Heels vs Pittsburgh Panthers

Having already secured bowl eligibility, the Pittsburgh Panthers have another goal in mind: defending their ACC Coastal Division title. The Panthers can go a long way toward achieving that goal Thursday as they host a North Carolina Tar Heels team coming off a 38-31 setback at Virginia that put a major dent in their bowl eligibility aspirations.

Matchup Information
  • North Carolina Tar Heels vs Pittsburgh Panthers (Matchup Report)
  • Date/Time: November 14, 8 p.m. ET
  • TV Coverage: ESPN
  • Opening Odds: Pittsburgh -6 | O/U 49.0 (Line History)

Opening Odds Analysis

The host Panthers opened as 6-point favorites, but the line dipped a half-point to -5.5 in short order. It’s the third straight year Pitt has been favored; North Carolina won the previous two games outright.

North Carolina News & Notes

Few teams have produced more stress for college football bettors than the Tar Heels, who have seen eight of their first nine games this season decided by seven points or less. Unfortunately for North Carolina fans and bettors, the Tar Heels are just 4-5 SU and 4-4-1 ATS in those contests, and have lost five of their past seven games following a 2-0 start.

The Tar Heels have been a middle-of-the-pack team in an overwhelming majority of categories, which is why they come into this one with SU, ATS and O/U marks hovering around the break-even point. But they’ve languished in keeping their quarterback upright, allowing an 8.73 percent sack rate against FBS teams that ranks 110th in the country.

Pittsburgh News & Notes

Ranking among the worst in the country in sacks allowed per game is troublesome on its own – but when you face off against the No. 1 sack unit in all of college football, you might be in trouble. Pittsburgh has been a force at getting to the quarterback, racking up 40 sacks through nine games (tied with SMU for the most in the nation) en route to five wins in its previous six games.

But while everything is working on the defensive side of the football, the Panthers offense has yet to take off. Quarterback Kenny Pickett has taken a step back in his second full year as the starter; while his completion rate has risen slightly to 61 percent, his yards per attempt average has fallen (from 6.4 to 6.0) while his 9-to-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio falls short of the 12-to-6 mark he posted in 2018.

Betting Pick: UNDER

The Panthers’ defensive prowess will be on full display Thursday night on its home turf – but the Tar Heels have had an uncanny knack for keeping games tight, and should be able to contain Pickett and the Panthers’ offensive attack.

Shark Bites
  • North Carolina is 5-20 SU in its last 25 games vs its conference.
  • Pittsburgh is 6-2 ATS in its last 8 games.
  • The total has gone OVER in North Carolina’s last 3 games vs Pittsburgh.