This Thursday the Pittsburgh Panthers (4-5, 2-3 ACC) will host the North Carolina tar Heels (1-8, 0-6 ACC). Kickoff is set for 7:30 EST at Heinz Field and will be televised on ESPN.
Oddsmakers currently have the Panthers listed as a 9.5-point home favorite with the total set at 52.5 points. Check out our Week 11 NCAAF betting lines for a full betting schedule and links to all of our game previews.
North Carolina vs Pittsburgh Vegas Betting Predictions & Odds Preview
The Tar Heels will be returning from their bye week looking to snap a 6-game losing streak. Simply put the 2017 season has been a nightmare for UNC, who have just 1 win in their first 9 games. Last time out they were at least competitive, losing by a final of just 19-24 at home to then No. 8 Miami as a massive 21-point underdog. It snapped a streak of 5 straight games in which the Tar Heels had failed to cover the spread.
The Panthers will also be coming back from a bye, but in much better spirits, as they took a 2-game winning streak into the break. The most recent being an impressive 31-14 win at home over Virginia as a slim 1-point favorite. Pitt is 3-1-1 ATS over their last 5 games after starting out the year 0-4 against the number.
Last year the Tar Heels escaped with a thrilling 37-36 home win over the Panthers, overcoming an early 12-0 deficit. However, it was Pittsburgh backers who brought home the cash, as UNC went off as a 7.5-point favorites in that contest.
Free NCAA Football Betting Pick & ATS Predictions: UNC +9.5
As surprising as it might sound, I think there’s some value here with North Carolina as a decently priced road dog in this matchup. One thing you have to keep in mind with the Tar Heels 1-8 start is the brutal schedule they have had to play. Out of those 8 losses, 4 were against ranked teams and another was a road game against a very good Georgia Tech team. The other two were against Duke and Virginia, who I think are on par with Pittsburgh and they played both of those teams tough.
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I also think this team gained some much-needed confidence with how well they played in their last game against Miami. At the same time, I don’t think the Tar Heels are simply going to just throw in the towel. I expect this team to come out and play their hearts out in this one to try and get that elusive first conference win.
The other big key here is I’m not sold on Pittsburgh being good enough to be laying this many points, especially with starting quarterback Max Browne sidelined for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. Backup Ben Dinucci hasn’t exactly impressed in relief of Browne, as he’s completing just 54.9% of his attempts with as many touchdowns (4) as interceptions (4).
Pittsburgh’s offense has went from a pass-happy attack to one that almost exclusively relies on the running game since Browne went down. In their last two games they rushed it 57 times against Duke and had 40 rushing attempts against Virginia. While North Carolina’s defense isn’t anything to write home about, they did hold Miami to just 59 rushing yards on 32 attempts in their last game. If they have any kind of success slowing down this Pitt rushing attack, they not only can keep this within the number, but win the game outright.
It’s also worth pointing out that this is the part of the season where UNC head coach Larry Fedora has got his teams to play their best football, as the Tar Heels are 22-10 ATS under Fedora in weeks 10 through 13 of the regular season. North Carolina is also 30-15 ATS in their last 45 when coming in having failed to cover 4 or 5 of their last 6 and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games played on Thursday. Give me the Tar Heels +9.5.