In what could potentially be the best matchup of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the Ohio State Buckeyes travel to Chapel Hill to take on a North Carolina team that just finished in third place in the loaded Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. Ohio State is currently viewed as one of the best teams in the nation, with wins over both Cincinnati to open the season and a trouncing of Villanova three weeks ago.
The Buckeyes are led by junior big man Kaleb Wesson and freshman point guard D.J. Carton, but coach Chris Holtmann boasts one of the deepest rosters in the nation, with 10 players averaging at least 13 minutes per game. As a team, the Buckeyes shoot just a shade under 40 percent from three-point range on the season on 156 attempts.
The Tar Heels are led by freshman point guard Cole Anthony, who is averaging 20.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and four assists per game. Anthony was limited in practice this week with a bum ankle, while backcourt mate Leaky Black was limited with a toe injury. Garrison Brooks is also dinged up with an eye issue, but coach Roy Williams said he should be fine.
North Carolina is a 3.5-point favorite at home, while the over/under for the game has been set at 139.
Can The Buckeyes Be No. 1 In Both Football And Basketball?
Ohio State is currently the darling of the Kenpom metric. The Buckeyes rank in the top 50 in a majority of the offensive metrics, while ranking second in the country in defensive efficiency, effective field-goal percentage against and two-point percentage against. Their 52.7 defensive points per game currently ranks sixth in the nation.
Ohio State is 6-1 ATS this season, and five of its seven games have gone under. The Buckeyes’ only loss ATS was against UMass-Lowell when they were 23-point favorites and only won by 20 points. They currently rank 299th in the country in tempo at 66.1 offensive possessions per game.
Tar Heels Look To Speed Up The Buckeyes
As is the North Carolina way under Williams, the Tar Heels will look to get out in the open court against Ohio State off of defensive stops. The Tar Heels currently rank 71st in the nation in tempo at 72.1 possessions per game. That is actually the lowest-ranked North Carolina team in regards to tempo under Williams, but not in terms of actual possessions.
North Carolina is just 2-5 against the spread so far this season. In the Tar Heels’ five losses ATS, they have underperformed the spread by an average of nine points.
Prediction and Pick
For this game, you have to take injuries into account. North Carolina is expecting its key guys to play, but most of them won’t be at 100 percent. When you combine those injuries with one of the best defenses in the country, that is seemingly a big advantage for Ohio State. The Tar Heels have also not been very efficient on offense even when healthy so far this season, averaging just 0.84 points per possession on the season.
The Tar Heels’ transition offense has yielded just 0.799 points per possession, and that is a staple of the Williams era in Chapel Hill. In the end, you have to like Ohio State’s defensive capability against a team that is dinged up and inefficient. Take Ohio State straight up along with the under.
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