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Northeastern vs. North Carolina: NCAA Basketball Picks and Predictions

Northeastern vs. North Carolina: NCAA Basketball Picks and PredictionsNortheastern vs. North Carolina: NCAA Basketball Picks and PredictionsArmando Bacot #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels makes a dunk. Photo by GRANT HALVERSON / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

With so many college basketball games postponed or canceled due to COVID, North Carolina took to Twitter to find an opponent. Northeastern responded, and now we have a Wednesday night matchup. Let’s take a look at the NCAA Basketball odds and make a smart pick.

Northeastern Huskies vs. North Carolina Tar Heels

Wednesday, February 17, 2021 – 7:00 PM ET at Dean Smith Center

North Carolina is trying to lock down an NCAA Tournament bid and to do that, it needs to win games. That can be a problem when the games keep getting canceled. Heading into February, the Tar Heels had to find room in the schedule to replace one game—an early January home game with Clemson that got called off due to COVID testing and tracing with Clemson.

In the last two weeks, however, the Tar Heels have lost both midweek games. One was their fault—Miami wasn’t comfortable playing at UNC last week after a video of maskless Tar Heels celebrating Saturday’s win over Duke surfaced online.

This week, Virginia Tech got hit with COVID issues, forcing their trip to Chapel Hill to get called off. Suddenly, the Heels were looking at one game over a 14-day stretch. So they took to Twitter.

Division II West Texas A&M called to say they could be in Chapel Hill on Wednesday. So did Division II Lees-McRae. Then Northeastern responded, and the Heels had a game.

Huskies Ready to Roll

Northeastern may not be a household name, but the Huskies are one of the hottest teams around right now. After starting the season 1-5, they won eight of their next nine before losing to Towson on Sunday to enter the Dean Smith Center at 9-7.

Northeastern has also shown it is not afraid to travel and take on big names. In a two-week December span, the Huskies played at Syracuse, Georgia, and West Virginia, which helps explain their slow start to the season.

Northeastern is also even more desperate for a game than Carolina. They’ve played just twice since January 24 and didn’t have another game scheduled until February 27.


The Huskies have four players averaging in double figures, led by sophomore Tyson Walker, at 18.0. The six-foot point guard also dishes out 5.1 assists a game and averages 2.3 steals. Walker is also one of five Huskies averaging more than one made three-pointer a game, which should strike fear in a UNC team that is No. 291 in the nation in three-point defense.

Northeastern has hit nine or more three-pointers in four of the last five games and six of the last eight, including a 10-for-21 night against College of Charleston and 10-of-22 two games ago against Towson. Meanwhile, North Carolina’s last two opponents have hit 21 of their 47 three-point attempts against the Tar Heels.

Hungry for Home Games

Thanks to all the postponements, North Carolina has played just six home games this season. The Tar Heels could really use a Quadrant I or II opponent, who would give their NCAA Tournament resume a boost. Tonight against Northeastern will be a Quad III game, which just gives the Heels a chance to play a game before a season-closing five-game stretch that includes games against Louisville, Florida State, Syracuse, and Duke.

While the Heels have struggled to defend the three, they’ve also been inconsistent hitting the shot on offense. Aside from a 10-for-15 night against Duke two games ago, the Tar Heels have struggled from outside. They hit 4-of-17 against Pitt, 5-of-19 against Clemson, and 2-of-16 against Virginia over the last four games.

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North Carolina should have a lopsided size advantage. The Tar Heels rotate four post players 6-foot-10 or taller and run most of their offense through them. Northeastern has no one taller than 6-foot-9. On average, the five projected Tar Heel starters are two inches taller than the five projected starters for Northeastern.

That mismatch shows up on the boards. While North Carolina is among the nation’s leaders in rebounding margin, Northeastern has been outrebounded by an average of almost two a game.

Head coach Roy Williams of UNCHead coach Roy Williams of UNCHead coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels talks to his players. Photo by Jason Miller / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

The Pick

Teams don’t normally go out of their way to add a trap game, but that’s exactly what the Tar Heels have done. While the players have been looking ahead to the big-name ACC foes coming up over the next few weeks, Northeastern was added to the schedule Monday night, less than 48 hours before tip.

After all the road trips in December, Northeastern will not be intimidated and will hungry to make a name for itself in the ultimate Cinderella game. Look for the Huskies to light things up from outside and put a scare into the Heels. UNC’s size should eventually wear them down, but Northeastern should hang close enough to cover the huge point spread posted at the best betting sites.

NCAAB Pick: Northeastern +16 (-110) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

Northeastern +16(-110)

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*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.


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