North Carolina travels West to take on No. 2 Gonzaga is a non-conference battle on Wednesday night.
North Carolina enters the game on a three-game losing streak and just found out that star point guard and likely top-five NBA draft pick, Cole Anthony, will be lost for six to eight weeks with a torn meniscus. The Tar Heels were without Anthony on Sunday when they dropped a home game to 6-4 Wofford.
The Tar Heels weren’t exactly lighting it up before the Anthony knee injury, but without him, they shot only 38.6 percent from the floor overall against a Terriers team that ranks 250th in adjusted defensive efficiency and 275th in opponents’ effective field-goal percentage.
Brandon Robinson stepped up with 16 points in the game, but Christan Keeling and Armando Bacot combined to go 6-of-24 from the field. If you need a positive note from the game, the Tar Heels had 17 assists to only 11 turnovers.
On the flip side, Gonzaga comes into this game riding fairly high after a nice road win over a good Arizona squad on Saturday night. Arizona mounted a massive comeback to make it close, but Gonzaga was in control for the middle 20 minutes of the game.
The Bulldogs are led by a well-rounded attack of six double-digit scorers, led by big man Filip Petrusev (15.8 points, 8.4 rebounds) and wing Corey Kispert (14.1 points, 4.3 rebounds). Joel Ayayi has also been tremendous at the guard spot, averaging 10.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game this season.
As a team, the Bulldogs are one of the most efficient offenses in the nation, ranking third in Kenpom’s adjusted offensive efficiency while also ranking in the top 20 in effective field-goal percentage, two-point percentage, and turnover percentage.
Gonzaga is a 12-point favorite in this one, with the over/under set at 145.5.
Stuck in Tar
North Carolina was not very good on offense, even with Anthony. On offense, they ranked in the 10th percentile in points per possession at just 0.795 and 309th in the nation in effective field-goal percentage at 44.1 percent.
The Tar Heels are decent on the defensive side though, surrendering just 0.82 points per possession and holding teams to 41.3 percent shooting inside the arc.
From a betting standpoint, North Carolina has been bad. The Tar Heels are just 2-8 against the spread and have gone under in nine of their 10 games.
Revenge In A Big Way?
The Bulldogs made the cross-country trip last season and suffered a 103-90 loss at the hands of the Tar Heels behind six triples and 25 points from Cameron Johnson. Luke Maye went for 20 points and 16 rebounds in the game as well.
Now, with both of those players having moved on and North Carolina missing its All-American guard, the Bulldogs are presented with an opportunity to pound a blue-blood program. Gonzaga is 7-4-1 against the spread this season and has gone over in nine of its 12 games this season.
The Bulldogs are not phenomenal on defense, but this team can score with the best in the country.
Pick and Prediction
This is a great time to both bet on Gonzaga and against North Carolina. In the Tar Heels’ last two games with Anthony, they were averaging 0.755 points per possession on offense. Their 0.97 PPP without him against Wofford is a product of Wofford’s defense and nothing else, yet North Carolina still lost the game.
Gonzaga averages over a point per possession on the entire season; overall, there is simply no way North Carolina can keep up, so take Gonzaga – 12 and take the over.
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