Tar Heels ready to shake off rust, get ball rolling

The UNC Tar Heels looked like a legitimate national championship contender on paper. Anyone looking at NCAA basketball odds would have expected UNC to grab a number of high-profile victories during the non-conference schedule. But the Tar Heels largely whiffed, dropping games to Indiana, Alabama, and Iowa State.

North Carolina has now won five of its past six games and is hoping beating a struggling Notre Dame Fighting Irish program could become a catalyst for climbing the ACC standings. The Fighting Irish have had a brutal start to the conference schedule. Notre Dame has dropped its first four ACC games and is 8-7 overall on the season.

Notre Dame has been a three-or-bust offense

Looking at scores and odds shows Notre Dame isn’t a bad shooting team. Where the Fighting Irish shine is from the 3-point line. Notre Dame ranks 42nd nationally in 3-point shooting percentage, knocking down 37.7 percent of its attempts. Despite the Fighting Irish averaging just short of 70 points per game, five Fighting Irish players average in double figures.

Nate Laszewski averages team-highs by contributing 13.4 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Notre Dame has had more struggles on defense. Opponents are shooting 46.1 percent from the field against the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame is 3-12 against the spread, including 2-8 against the spread in the past 10 games. The Fighting Irish have seen the total go under in eight of their 15 games.

Tar Heels need to find touch on defensive end

People trying to get good Las Vegas odds have likely been burned more than once by UNC this season. UNC has dropped two of its first three ACC games on the road against unranked opponents. The Tar Heels are 3-6-1 against the spread in their past 10 games.

UNC bounced back in a big way by putting up 88 points in its last game against Wake Forest thanks in part to a strong stretch by Leaky Black. The Tar Heels are fortunate to have so many veteran players returning who can score. UNC forward Armando Bacot is a double-double machine, averaging 18.6 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. Caleb Love has struggled from the perimeter, but have still averaged 16.8 points per game.

Notre Dame at UNC Head-to-Head

Anyone who looks at odds to win March Madness can always count on UNC being in the mix. The Tar Heels have dominated Notre Dame, which has had stretches in its program history where it has challenged for the top spot as well. UNC least the all-time series 27-9, the two teams first met in 1958, but didn’t start playing regularly until Notre Dame joined the ACC about a decade ago.

The Fighting Irish won the only meeting between the teams last season.

Notre Dame at UNC Game Information

Game: Notre Dame (8-7) at UNC (10-5)
Location: Dean E. Smith Center
Day/Time: Saturday, 11:30 a.m.
Television: ESPN 2

Notre Dame at UNC Prediction

Notre Dame has had a nightmarish start to the season. The Fighting Irish are heavily reliant on outside shooting and don’t play good defense. Things haven’t been a picnic for North Carolina either. Defensively, the Tar Heels have given other teams a lot of good opportunities, while UNC has had bouts with selfishness on offense.

The Tar Heels should find a way to put up points and grab another win. Both teams have no problem going up-and-down the floor, so the total should go above the number.

The Tar Heels are listed at -XXX in our Vegas Lines. This means that if you wager $100 on the Tar Heels, you have a chance to win $XX. Notre Dame is +XXX, offering a chance to win $XXX.

The implied probability attached to the betting lines give the UNC a XX.XX% chance to win, with the Notre Dame at XX.XX%.
Pick: UNC -xx (-xx), Under xxx (-xx)