The North Carolina Tar Heels pulled out a massive home win over their biggest rival, Duke, on Saturday to maintain a two-game lead atop the ACC standings.
So, Tuesday’s home tilt with Clemson presents the perfect letdown, sell-high opportunity.
Clemson vs. North Carolina odds
Clemson vs North Carolina prediction
(7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Conversely, Clemson has lost four of its 10 conference games following its 11-1 non-conference start.
But the Tigers have had some late-game luck swing the wrong way.
Their last three losses have come by six combined points, including a double-overtime loss to Georgia Tech.
Their three wins during the same timeframe have all been by double-digits, so the Tigers aren’t playing as poorly as their record and are due for a big bounce-back performance.
North Carolina pulled out a 10-point road victory in the prior meeting between these two, but Clemson shot only 1-for-18 from 3-point range (5%) while the Heels shot 8-for-23 (35%).
If the Tigers made a few more shots – they’re shooting 35% from deep on the year – they could’ve won that one.
I’m betting they make a few more shots here because North Carolina is due for negative shooting regression on defense. Tar Heel opponents are shooting 27% from 3 during conference play, but ShotQuality projects that number should be closer to 33% based on the “quality” of attempts allowed.
Opponents are generating only 0.92 PPP on unguarded catch-and-shoot jumpers this year, about 0.17 under expected.
They’re allowing plenty of 3-point attempts (140th nationally in 3-point rate allowed), and more are due to fall, likely sinking UNC’s defense in the future.
I also like Clemson’s matchup from a more general schematic perspective.
The Tigers funnel their whole offense through stud big man PJ Hall in the post, leveraging his interior scoring ability to open up the perimeter for secondary off-ball screen actions to pop open shooters.
The Heels’ post-up defense is questionable at best (0.90 PPP allowed, 29th percentile), and we already know they’re due for negative 3-point shooting regression on defense, so I’m betting Clemson is in for a big day offensively.
On the other end of the court, North Carolina runs a pace-and-post-heavy offense, leveraging the guard trio of Elliot Cadeau, Cormac Ryan and RJ Davis to push the pace in transition and dump the ball to Armando Bacot in the low post.
Betting on College Basketball?
I worry about Clemson’s transition defense (1.05 PPP allowed, 37th percentile), but the Tigers should hold up fine against Bacot down low (0.78 PPP allowed, 74th percentile). Hall and Ian Schieffelin have held up well against those sets.
Considering the favorable situational spot and looming two-way regression, the Tigers’ good post-up defense is good enough for me to take a shot with them as two-possession road dogs.
Give me Clemson to keep this one close in Chapel Hill.
Clemson vs. North Carolina pick
Clemson +7.5 (-115) at FanDuel | Play to +7 (-110)