North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Pittsburgh Panthers Pick 11/14/19
North Carolina Tar Heels (4-5 SU, 5-4 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (6-3 SU, 6-3 ATS)
When: Thursday, November 14, 8 p.m EST
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
Point Spread: UNC +4/PITT -4 (MyBookie - 50% bonus up to $1000 in free bets!)
Total: O/U 50.5
Outlook For Week 12
Now that North Carolina has ensured that it won’t accidentally win the ACC Coastal (the division nobody wants to win because nobody wants to get fed to Clemson in the ACC championship game), the Tar Heels have to worry about making sure that they get bowl eligible. Carolina looked like a surprise contender when it nearly upset Clemson and did defeat South Carolina early in the year, but the Tar Heels’ star has faded some since then, and they now must win two of their final three games to make a bowl.
Pittsburgh has the opposite problem. The Panthers know they’ll go bowling somewhere after getting win number 6 over Georgia Tech, but should they run the table and Virginia Tech beats Virginia, they’d nose out the Cavaliers for the Coastal championship. Pittsburgh tried its best to give away its game against Georgia Tech with three turnovers, but the Yellow Jackets were too inept to take it, and the Panthers escaped with a 20-10 win. If they’re anywhere near as generous against UNC, they’re in trouble.
How the Public is Betting the North Carolina/Pittsburgh Game
The line has moved half a point in Carolina’s favor, going from -4.5 for Pitt to -4. The total has increased a point from its opening of 49.5 and now sits at 50.5
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Offensive lineman Charlie Heck and defensive back Trey Morrison are both questionable with upper-body injuries, while wide receiver Antoine Green is questionable with a lower-body injury.
Running back Todd Sibley Jr. was held out against Georgia Tech and is questionable with an undisclosed issue.
When North Carolina Has the Ball
The Pittsburgh offense has 21 touchdowns on the season. North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell has 26 touchdowns with his arm this year. So yeah, the Tar Heels can throw the ball around a bit. In fact, they might throw it around too much, as only four of their touchdowns this season have come on the ground. North Carolina’s big-play offense has allowed Howell to thrive, but Javonte Williams and Michael Carter haven’t gotten in on the fun in the end zone yet. Both backs will grind out tough yardage when they need to, but Howell has more completions than either back has carries this season, underscoring just how critical Howell is to the attack.
When Howell does throw it, it’s likely going to Dyami Brown or Dazz Newsome. Together, the two have combined for 1,326 receiving yards this season, underscoring both their talent and a complete lack of depth for the Heels at the position. Only Beau Corrales comes within three hundred yards of either wideout, showing that Carolina is determined to flow its offense through its star players, regardless of the outcome.
When Pittsburgh Has the Ball
Kenny Pickett’s 1,952 passing yards look pretty darn good until you take a look inside his numbers and see nine touchdowns against eight interceptions. Pittsburgh is the mirror image of the classic bend but doesn’t break defense, as the Panthers will chew up large chunks of yardage, but when it comes to putting the ball in the end zone, few teams do it worse than Pitt. The Panthers average just 20.9 points per game, which would rank dead last in the ACC if not for Georgia Tech, and the Yellow Jackets at least have the excuse of a first-year coach installing a completely new system than what his players were recruited to play. Pittsburgh has no such excuse, and the problem lies with its meager running game and Pickett’s decision making, which has been trending in the wrong direction. A.J. Davis averages a pedestrian 4.6 yards a carry, and Pickett has one score against four picks in his past two games against Georgia Tech and Miami, neither of which is known for playing particularly good defense.
Even as the Tar Heel program cratered before Mack Brown rode to its rescue, UNC has had a relatively easy time with Pittsburgh. The Heels have won five of the past six meetings ATS, and have won four of their past five ATS when the game is played in Pittsburgh. But under Pat Narduzzi, November has been the Panthers’ time to shine. Pittsburgh has covered in six of seven during November, and the Panthers are just as effective coming off a bye week, having covered in four of their past five when they were off the previous week.
If you’re the type of person who likes betting totals, you should know that something has to give here. Pitt has gone under in six of its past seven games at home, while Carolina has gone over in six of seven played on the road. Something has to give.
The northern chill is supposed to start to break on Thursday, and temperatures will be up to around 45 degrees.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
These two squads both struggle to score points, which sets this up as an odd query. It’s really a question of who has more motivation at this point in the year, and North Carolina has everything to play for. Win and beat Mercer next week, and Carolina is almost certain to be happy with its postseason destination. Lose, and the situation becomes perilous.
Pittsburgh, on the other hand, knows its identity well and will ride its defense to get a result. But how badly do the Panthers want or need a response, as opposed to simply enjoying what they have? Pittsburgh gets little reward from winning this game, as it only pushes them closer toward winning the Coastal and having to try to take down Clemson.
Both programs know each other well, which often keeps scores down and makes it hard to get much of a flow going. I think that favors UNC, as the less its porous defense is on the field, the better off the offense should be. This seems a gamble, but I like the Heels to put up a good showing and possibly win the game outright.
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