No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 4 Pittsburgh Best Bet and Prediction for Friday, March 15

Expect the Tar Heels' defense to lead UNC to victory
RJ Davis had 18 points and three assists in the quarterfinal win over Florida State
RJ Davis had 18 points and three assists in the quarterfinal win over Florida State / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels demolished Florida State in the ACC Tournament Quarterfinals and now take on No. 4 Pittsburgh Friday night at 7:00 PM EST.

Pittsburgh took down Wake Forest and would likely seal an NCAA Tournament bid with a victory. That being said, the Tar Heels have seven straight wins and look like a team destined to make a deep run in March Madness.

North Carolina beat the Panthers 70-57 back in January and they're favored to pick up another win today. Let's take a look at the updated odds before I break down the matchup and give my best bet.

North Carolina vs. Pittsburgh Odds, Spread and Total

North Carolina vs. Pittsburgh Best Bet and Prediction

The Tar Heels are 7.5-point favorites with -315 odds on the moneyline and a total set at 147.5. That's a stark change from a total of 158 in the initial matchup, though I still see this game going under. Pittsburgh's path to victory likely revolves around slowing down the pace and preventing North Carolina from scoring in transition, so I expect the Panthers to try to keep the score low.

Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, the Tar Heels' stellar defense means they'll be comfortable in that kind of contest. I see North Carolina winning this, though I'm more comfortable taking the under. The Tar Heels are 12th nationally in opponent effective field goal percentage (46%). They're dominant on the interior with Armando Bacot, but their three-point defense ranks 32nd (31.1%) as well.

That's an issue for the Panthers, who take 44.5% of their shots from beyond the arc (29th). They made just 5-of-29 three-pointers in that first matchup en route to 57 points. While I expect an improvement tonight, that illustrates how tough this matchup is for Pittsburgh.

If you don't make three-pointers, the path to an over likely centers around points in transition and from the charity stripe. Both teams rank in the top 35 in turnover percentage and outside of the top 190 in forcing turnovers and Pittsburgh is 228th in free throw rate (31.2%).

It's hard to see this turning into a shootout, especially considering that the Panthers rank 268th in pace. Expect North Carolina's defense to propel the Tar Heels to a low-scoring victory as the under improves to 5-1 in their last six games as favorites.

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Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.