The Big Ten/ACC Challenge is one of the best early-season college basketball traditions. Every year, we see Duke play Ohio State or Michigan State. Well, last night the challenge started and the Big Ten took a commanding lead. In the first game of the night, Purdue walloped Florida State, 93-65. After, Ohio State upset Duke, 71-66. The Big Ten will look to keep the momentum rolling in the Michigan vs North Carolina matchup tonight.
The Michigan Wolverines will travel to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to take on Hubert Davis and his Tar Heels in the Dean Dome. Both teams could use this win badly, considering neither team has gotten off to a great start thus far. Let’s take a look at the college basketball betting preview for tonight’s game.
Michigan vs North Carolina | Big Ten/ACC Challenge Betting Preview
Spread: MICH -2.5 (-110) | UNC +2.5 (-110)
Moneyline: MICH (-145) | UNC (-120)
Total: 151.5 — Over (-110) | Under (-110)
Why Michigan Can Cover
Both of these teams are most certainly able to cover the spread when they are on their game. The problem is, neither of these two teams has looked overly impressive early in the season. Michigan, two weeks ago, was ranked fourth in the nation before falling to unranked Seton Hall. They followed that up with a win over UNLV, then lost again to a good Arizona team.
Senior guard Eli Brooks has been a leader for the team on the court. He’s averaging over fifteen points per game (ppg) and also nabbing over a steal per game. Another more veteran player for the Wolverines is sophomore big Hunter Dickinson. After Isaiah Livers went down last year with injury, they rode Dickinson in the tournament until they finally fell to UCLA in the Elite Eight. Freshman Caleb Houstan has picked up his game a bit recently, after starting out ice cold. He’s averaging nearly nine ppg while only shooting 35% from the floor. He will need to have a big impact if Michigan wants to win away from home.
Why North Carolina Can Cover
As for North Carolina, new head coach Hubert Davis has overseen an inconsistent opening to the 2021 season. They started out 3-0 after beating Loyola-Maryland, Brown and Charleston. However, after that, they lost two straight in the Cheez-It Hall Of Fame Tip-Off. In the first game, they were outscored 93-84 by the number two team in the country, Purdue. Then, they fell to Tennessee in the consolation game, 89-72. It was not a good weekend for the Heels, but they did pick up another win last week before Thanksgiving, beating UNC-Asheville, 72-53.
Five players are averaging at least 10 ppg or more on the Tar Heel squad. Two returnees from last year’s squad, Armando Bacot (15.7 ppg) and Caleb Love (15.2 ppg), lead the Tar Heels in scoring. However, Hubert Davis brought in two huge transfers over the offseason in the form of Brady Manek and Dawson Garcia. Both are tournament veterans.
The x-factor tonight for the Tar Heels is sophomore guard R.J. Davis. While playing at home this season, he’s averaging 15.2 ppg and shooting an insane 52% from three. If he’s on his game, there are very few teams that can score with the Tar Heels.
Michigan vs North Carolina Prediction
Overall, this should be a tightly-contested matchup. I expect North Carolina to take an early lead into halftime, behind the raucous crowd at the Dean E. Smith Center. However, Eli Brooks and Hunter Dickinson will come alive in the second half and cause the game to come down to the final possessions. I like the Tar Heels at home, getting 2.5 points. On top of that, I would also take the over considering that both teams combine to average 155 points per game.
Michigan vs North Carolina Prediction: UNC +2.5, Over 151.5
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