North Carolina Tar Heels at Pittsburgh Panthers – NCAAM January 26

North Carolina (10-5, 5-3) at Pittsburgh (8-3, 4-2)

  • Time: 4PM PST | 6PM CST | 7PM EST
  • Location: Peterson Events Center, Pittsburgh, PA
  • TV: ACC Network


Carolina leads the series 14-5 although the Tar Heels dropped both decisions last season. The Heels had won six in a row after starting the series at 1-2 when Pittsburgh entered the ACC in 2013-14. Carolina has won five of it’s last six games while the Panthers lost their first game of 2021 at Wake Forest on Saturday.

Vs. The Spread

North Carolina:

  • The Tar Heels are 3-8 ATS in their last 11
  • The OVER has been the play in 4 of Carolina’s last 5 games
  • The Heels are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 road games


  • The Panthers are 7-2 ATS in their last 9
  • The total has gone UNDER in 4 of the last six Pittsburgh-UNC games
  • Pitt is 4-2 ATS in it’s last 6 ACC games

Last Time Out

Armando Bacot scored 17 and had eight rebounds and Day’Ron Sharpe followed with 16 and 10 as North Carolina got past rival NC State, 86-76, on Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill. Carolina had a 14-point lead with seven minutes to play before the Wolfpack went on a 14-6 run to cut the Tar Heels lead to as few as six. The back board was once again the difference for Roy Williams’ squad as UNC had a 44-30 advantage and 14-7 on the offensive glass.

Pittsburgh dropped a 76-75 decision at Wake Forest on Saturday as Xavier Johnson’s three-point attempt hit the back of the rim and bounced off at the buzzer. The Panthers outscored the Demon Deacons 10-1 over the last 4:49 as they erased a 10-point deficit late in the game. Justin Champagnie led the Panthers with 17 points an eight boards and posted a career-best 5 steals.

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
North Carolina -3 (-105) -147 O 146 (-105)
Pittsburgh +3 (-115) +127 U 146 (-115)

Tar Heels Stat Pack

  • Carolina is averaging 80.5 ppg. over it’s last five games as the Heels have raised their season average to 74.5 ppg.
  • Tar Heels freshmen have made 33 starts this season which is fourth most in the country behind Kentucky, Kansas State, and Washington State.
  • Freshman point guard Caleb Love averaged 17 points and 4.5 assists in last weeks wins over Wake Forest and NC State.

For the Tar Heels To Win

North Carolina Tar Heels LogoThe battle of the backboards will likely determine the outcome. This game features four of the top five offensive rebounders in the ACC in North Carolina’s Day’Ron Sharpe (3.3) and Armando Bacot and Justin Champagnie (3.3) and Au’diese Toney (2.8) of Pitt.

The Panthers average 42.3 rebounds per game (7th/NCAA) which is second in the ACC behind UNC’s 43.5. North Carolina’s defensive statistics in wins and losses has been really lop-sided as the Tar Heels hold their opponents to 65.8 points in the wins, but opponents score a whopping 79 points per game in the five losses and opponents make nearly three more triples per game in those losses.

Panthers Stat Pack

  • Justin Champagnie, Au’Diese Toney and Xavier Johnson average a combined 50.4 points, 23.3 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game.
  • Champagnie has recorded five double-doubles and is one of only three players (Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn, West Virginia’s Derek Culver) from power conferences to average a double-double this season.
  • Shooting guard Ithiel Horton averaged 17 points in back-to-back wins over Syracuse; however, he has cooled back off is scoring with six combined points in the last two. He also has a combined seven rebounds and nine assists.

For the Panthers To Win

Pittsburgh Panthers LogoAs we said, controlling the paint with so much size and length will be a major key and with these two intangibles in mind, it’s is interesting that neither team has shot-blocking and rim-protection. Both are in the bottom third of the NCAA, so the ability to go to the glass and play through contact and staying out of foul trouble will be a determinant.

Pitt junior point guard Xavier Johnson’s matchup with Carolina freshman Caleb Love is also of note as Love had his best week of his young career last week (see above). Johnson has a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio as the Panthers have averaged only 10 per game over the last three after 14.9 per game over the pervious three.

Winner: North Carolina (-3) 79, Pittsburgh 75
Over-Under: Take OVER 146

The Bets
North Carolina Tar Heels -3
OVER 146
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Kenneth Cross / Author

Kenneth Cross is a new entry to The Sports Geek staff as he has 25 years of experience in print, broadcast, and internet sports journalism. Cross is a lover of all sports, but college basketball is his passion. He estimates that he has seen around 1,500 college basketball games - live and in-person - and hopes that grows this season. If you listen to Radio, you have likely heard him on Sundays covering the Carolina Panthers for some 20 years. Now in Tampa Bay, he works as a national radio correspondent.

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