The 2023 ACC/SEC Challenge officially got underway on Tuesday night, with the SEC jumping out to a 4-3 lead thanks in part to a dominant upset by No. 12 Kentucky 95-73 over No. 8 Miami. On Wednesday, fans are treated to seven more matchups between the conferences, but the headliner is between No. 10 Tennessee and No. 17 North Carolina.
While both teams have shown signs of tremendous upside at points through the early stages of the season, they’ve also each suffered a tough loss or two as well. But for the Volunteers, they’ll enter this tough road matchup fresh off back-to-back losses against the two top teams in the country in then-No. 2 Purdue (71-67) and previous No. 1 Kansas (69-60).
As for the Tar Heels, they bounced back nicely from an overtime loss against Villanova by defeating Arkansas 87-72 and will now look to build off that in a matchup that will be an even bigger test for coach Hubert Davis and company.
Tennessee vs North Carolina Game Prediction
While the Tar Heels’ impressive win over Arkansas knocked the Razorbacks out of the Top 25, there’s no question this will be the team’s toughest test to date. North Carolina may also be without guard Cormac Ryan, who suffered an ankle injury and missed the Arkansas game. Coach Hubert Davis called him “uncertain” for the matchup.
The Tar Heels are still led by guard RJ Davis, who is averaging 18.2 points this season and forwards Armando Bacot(15.8 points, 11.7 rebounds) and Harrison Ingram (14.2 points, 7.0 rebounds), and will have plenty of firepower in both the frontcourt and backcourt.
Tennessee has proven to be a deep team this season, with seven players averaging 19.8 minutes per game or more. We’ve seen the Volunteers’ scoring spread across the roster, but guard Dalton Knecht is the go-to option.
Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht put himself on the map early in the season with some impressive scoring displays. His aggressive style of offense and diverse shot selection has earned him longer looks from NBA scouts, averaging 17.5 points, shooting 49% on twos and 37% from distance. pic.twitter.com/RF3Jps1QeY
— Jeremy Woo (@JeremyWoo) November 28, 2023
North Carolina has already proven players can step up in the wake of Ryan’s injury, and I think their depth can come close to matching Tennessee’s here. I also think North Carolina benefits massively from playing this game at home and will be able to cover one of the few small NCAA basketball lines for Wednesday’s ACC/SEC Challenge matchups..
Predicted Score: North Carolina Tar Heels 78, Tennessee Volunteers 72
Worth Targeting the Total?
I think the Las Vegas odds were fairly close to nailing this projected total. It’s set at 144, and while the over looks to be the more popular bet and the likely way I’d lean in this game, it’s far from an easy call. The Tar Heels have impressed offensively, scoring north of 77 points in every game this year, but the Volunteers recently held Syracuse to 56 and kept Purdue and Kansas to around 70.
Much of this over/under will come down to how well Tennessee shoots the ball and their approach to defending this UNC team. But I’d lean toward the over in this spot when betting online.
College Basketball Pick: Over 144
Worth Betting ATS?
North Carolina has moved around as a small favorite here but has slowly climbed up to a two-point favorite. Their balanced attack both inside and outside, along with the talent their starting five possesses is tough to overlook.
Maybe the most impressive aspect of North Carolina’s play thus far was how well they looked when needing to fill in for the injured Ryan. If Ryan can play, it’ll be a nice boost, but even without him, we saw numerous players step up and I think the Tar Heels’ depth isn’t getting enough love just yet, but that should come along soon.
I’m taking North Carolina at the BetUS sportsbook to defend its home court on the back of big games once again from RJ Davis and ArmandoBacot. Bacot should be the ultimate difference maker.
College Basketball Pick: North Carolina Tar Heels -2
Tennessee vs North Carolina Head-to-Head
North Carolina leads the series 10-2, but Tennessee won the last meeting on Nov. 21, 2021 on a neutral floor.
Tennessee vs North Carolina Betting Lines
Tennessee vs North Carolina Game Information
- Game: Tennessee (4-2) at North Carolina (5-1)
- Date/Time: Nov. 29, 7:15 p.m. ET
- Location: Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill, N.C.
- Tennessee vs North Carolina Live Stream: TBS.com
Question of the Day
Which North Carolina player may have the biggest impact on the game?
North Carolina forward Armando Bacot, who averages 15.8 points and 11.7 rebounds per game.
The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.