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The post-Joel Berry era has officially started in Chapel Hill, and the North Carolina Tar Heels enter this matchup with Elon as the eighth-ranked team in the country. They’ll face off against their inter-state rivals who will be very eager to pull off this massive upset. Elon knocked off Manhattan in their opener, and both sides are looking to go 2-0.
High Aspirations For UNC
The 2017-18 season didn’t go the way UNC would’ve wanted it. Their season ended in humiliating fashion, with a blowout loss to Texas A & M in the NCAA tournament. They’ll have to replace three-year starter Joel Berry, who was the heart and soul of the team, but they do return a lot of talent, including senior forward Luke Maye who could be the team’s leading scorer this year.
LUKE MAYE SENDS NORTH CAROLINA TO THE FINAL FOUR! pic.twitter.com/oR1b5526yw
— Eric Rosenthal (@ericsports) March 26, 2017
In a season-opening win over Wofford, Maye dropped 24 points and added seven rebounds. He’s a knockdown shooter, and I don’t think Elon will have anyone who can keep pace with him defensively. UNC had a few letdown games against lesser opponents last year, and I’m sure they’ll be eager to avoid a disappointment like that again this season. They won’t be caught slipping and will be going all out in this one.
Huge Game For Elon
Elon has certainly had this game, their home opener, circled on their calendars for a long time. Elon is looking to show they can compete for a CAA conference title, and won their season opener by six on the road against Manhattan.
It’s not very often that a team like Elon gets to host a team of UNC’s caliber at their home. Adding to the already massive importance of this game is the fact that it’s the first ever game to be played at their new home stadium. The brand new arena has way more seats than Elon has ever had before, and they should be able to draw a pretty raucous home crowd for this one.
Elon will be highly motivated and will surely come out with a ton of fire and passion, but that might not be enough. Elon ranked 248th in the KenPom rankings last year and was pretty bad even by low-mid major standards. They may start out hot with some adrenaline, but they won’t be in this game in the second half.
- 3-7 ATS in their last 10 non-conference games
- 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games overall
- 2-11 ATS in their last 13 home games vs. a team with a winning road record
Tar Heels are:
- 4-0 ATS in their last 4 vs. Colonial Athletic Association
- 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games following an ATS win
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I think Elon will come out with a valiant effort, but will come up far short. Elon will have been thinking about this one for a while and dreaming about the opportunity to knock off the state’s best team, but UNC won’t be caught unprepared. The Tar Heels are taking every threat seriously this year, and I’d be shocked if they don’t dominate this game.
Prediction: North Carolina -17
Full-Game Total Pick
I think this one has shootout potential. North Carolina has a ton of offensive firepower, and Elon quietly had a much better offense than you might expect last year. Their real problem was on defense, and there’s no way they can stop UNC. Their only chance is to start chucking early, and I think this one should easily get into the 150’s.
Prediction: Over 147