The Indiana Hoosiers will look to remain perfect on the season Wednesday evening when they host the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Hoosiers are a perfect 6-0 on the young season though their level of competition has been lacking thus far.
Their most notable victory this year came against a Xavier team that has lost three of their last four games. Despite that, Indiana is a 6.5-point home favorite against the preseason number one.
North Carolina enters the game having lost consecutive games at the Phil Knight Invitational Tournament and falling out of the #1 ranking in the polls. The Heels have not performed up to expectations so far this season but are getting healthy, with Puff Johnson returning over the last few games from injury.
Heels are looking to regain their footing
North Carolina has been brutal against the spread this season, covering just once in their first seven games. Their -6.1 points per game performance against the spread is one of the worst marks in the ACC, while the normally high-scoring program has gone over the total just three times so far this season.
Puff Johnson looks to be back to full speed after missing the first three games of the season. Johnson was able to log 48 minutes in the Heels’ quadruple overtime loss to Alabama and should provide UNC a steady performer coming off of the pine.
Multiple losses due to graduation or transfer have negatively impacted the quality depth at coach Hubert Davis’ disposal. Sophomores D’Marco Dunn and Dontrez Styles have yet to develop into consistent contributors, while freshman Seth Trimble may need some more time to get up to speed.
The Tar Heels are also not rebounding as effectively as they have in the past. Their current rebounding metrics are the worst of any season over the last ten seasons despite preseason All-American Armando Bacot’s best efforts.
Are the Hoosiers more bark than bite?
While a perfect record and a top 15 ranking look fantastic on paper, Indiana has done little to show us what they are actually capable of. While the win over Xavier looked great at first, recent developments suggest that it may not be that impressive.
The Hoosiers trailed Xavier at the half and only won the game by two points, though the Cintas Center is one of the most difficult venues in the nation.
On the positive side, any team that boasts a player the caliber of Trayce Jackson-Davis is always going to be better than mediocre and will likely be in every game on their schedule. Davis is averaging nearly 19 points per game, along with eight rebounds, while shooting a foolish 76% from the field on the season.
The Indiana roster is also loaded with experience in fifth-year seniors Xavier Johnson, Race Thomspon, and Miller Kopp, along with a talented freshmen group. The group ranks within the top 15 in both offensive and defensive efficiency though their level of competition calls that into question.
UNC vs. Indiana Prediction
North Carolina’s performance against the spread so far this season bring legitimate concerns when they face a top 15 blue blood program playing at home. Right now, the Tar Heels look really disjointed and vulnerable against a team that deploys so much experience and star power.
Indiana covers the 6.5 points at home.
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