Ohio State Buckeyes vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Pick 12/4/19
Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0 SU, 6-1 ATS) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (6-1 SU, 2-5 ATS)
When: Wednesday, December 4, 9:30 p.m.
Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Point Spread: OHST +4 /UNC -4 (Best Basketball Lines)
Total: O/U 136
Last Time Out:
Ohio State crushed Morgan State 90-57 on Friday; North Carolina edged Oregon 78-74 on Friday.
Scouting the Buckeyes:
Defense, defense, defense. That’s the name of the game for Ohio State, which hasn’t given up more than 57 points in a game all season. Part of that is because Ohio State hasn’t yet left Columbus this season and hasn’t played many tough opponents this season, but the Buckeyes do have wins over both Cincinnati and Villanova. Neither one was able to break 56, with the Wildcats, in particular, failing to do anything of note against Ohio State’s tenacious D.
This game will easily be the toughest test Ohio State has faced on defense, as North Carolina has long been known for putting up a lot of points. But the Buckeyes have had no trouble putting up points themselves, boasting a top 20 offense that averages 78.3 points per game. Chris Holtmann’s team features a classic Bob Lake offense: the Buckeyes don’t have two guys who can score 25 points a game, but they have five guys who can each score 10, led by Kaleb Wesson’s 12.7 points per game.
Scouting the Tar Heels:
Roy Williams faces a problem that he’s never seen before in Chapel Hill: getting the Tar Heels to score to their capabilities. Scoring has never been a problem for Carolina in past seasons, but the win over Oregon marked the seventh straight game this year, where the Heels have failed to crack 80 points. The last time the Heels went seven straight without scoring 80 points, legendary Carolina coach Dean Smith was preparing to start his freshman year at the University of Kansas.
Cole Anthony has been a big help on offense for the Heels with 20.7 points per game, but he’s got to get some more support from the rest of his teammates. Far too often, North Carolina’s game has been to look for the second shot and take care of the basketball that way. That’s worked more often than not, but when Carolina came across Michigan and faced a team that could actually duel against it on the boards, the Heels ended up on the wrong end of a 19-0 run and got blitzed by the Wolverines.
Conference play. Will both of these teams be able to keep their focus on the task at hand, given what’s coming up for them later in the week? This is especially true for the Tar Heels, who have to face Virginia next, giving them the unenviable task of having to face the country’s two best defenses in the same week. Ohio State doesn’t face quite the same situation, given that it’s got to face Penn State as opposed to Michigan or Maryland, but the Buckeyes are still going to have their minds on the Big Ten for most of this week. Whether they can stay on topic will make a huge difference.
Ohio State will Cover if:
The Buckeyes can set the pace of the game and keep Carolina from getting points in transition. Because so much of what the Heels do is based around rebounding, that’s by far the easiest way to asphyxiate them: starve them of rebounding opportunities, and Carolina won’t be able to extend possessions and get the shots it needs to stay in the game.
North Carolina will Cover if:
The Tar Heels can find a quality secondary scorer alongside Anthony to give the Buckeye defense more to worry about. The easier this defensive assignment is for Ohio State, the harder it will be for the Heels to get the Buckeyes out of their defensive stance and force them to play at a faster tempo. Someone in blue is going to have to step up for the Heels to get a result.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
North Carolina is going to get itself on track eventually, but I’m not so sure that Ohio State is the right opponent for the Heels to get themselves going against. The Buckeyes are locked in on the defensive side of the ball, and there’s little reason to think that Carolina is going to produce a lot of points against this team when it has struggled to score against lesser defenses. I won’t pretend that the Buckeyes facing their first road game doesn’t worry me, but I think that Ohio State can handle the Tar Heels’ crowd. Give me the Buckeyes to land the cover here.