UNC Basketball vs. Portland Pilots preview, live stream, odds

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

UNC Basketball opens the Phil Knight Invitational with a game against the Portland Pilots on Thanksgiving day.

There might not be a school aside from Oregon more synonymous with Nike than North Carolina and more specifically, a team than UNC Basketball. One of their alumni has a Nike subsidiary built upon his name and likeness. It is fitting then they are part of a 16-team two bracket tournament honoring Nike founder Phil Knight’s 80th birthday.

No. 9 North Carolina (3-0) is coming off a dominant 96-72 win over Stanford on Monday night. Joel Berry and Kenny Williams both eclipsed the 20-point mark and made 11 three-pointers between them. PK80 could give Roy Williams‘ team its first real test of the season if they meet No. 4 Michigan State in the Motion Bracket championship game. Luke Maye leads Carolina with 19.3 points per game and 9.3 rebounds.

Portland (2-1) lost their only game against Division I competition this season. The Pilots lost  80-75 to Portland State in the season opener. Portland finished last in the West Coast Conference — a conference dominated at the top by Gonzaga and St. Mary’s — last season with a 2-16 record in conference and 11-22 overall. Josh McSwiggan, a junior college transfer, is the team’s leading scorer at 14.3 points per game.

Here’s how you can watch Thursday’s North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Portland Pilots game:

Date: Thursday, Nov. 23
Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
Location: Portland, Oregon
Venue: Moda Center
Live Stream: WatchESPN

The Tar Heels are favored by 26 points. The total is 158. Of the two games Carolina has played that have had lines, they covered and the game went over both times. That includes their last game on Monday against Stanford in which they blew away the 7.5 point spread and 156.5 total.

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Holiday tournaments are generally not conducive to these huge blowouts due to their unfamiliar locations and strange start times. Portland is obviously worse than Stanford, but 26 is a lot of points. I could easily see Carolina getting off to a slow start in a game that is starting before noon on the West Coast. They will win, but that spread scares me.

Prediction: North Carolina 85, Portland 65