- The #1-ranked Tar Heels are 14-point favorites in the North Carolina vs Portland odds at the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, OR, on Thursday
- UNC is off to a perfect 4-0 start, but has yet to face a top-40 program
- Below, see the odds and North Carolina vs Portland predictions
The Phil Knight Invitational tips off on Thursday in Portland, Oregon as part of Feast Week. Four ranked programs are taking part, and another two that rank inside the top-40. The field is headlined by #1 North Carolina (4-0), and the Tar Heels will square off with Portland (4-2) in their first test.
Online sportsbooks are not expecting an overly competitive game, as UNC was pegged as the massive chalk in the college basketball odds.
North Carolina vs Portland Odds
|North Carolina Tar Heels||-14 (-110)||-950||O 152 (-110)|
|Portland Pilots||+14 (-110)||+650||U 152 (-110)|
Odds as of November 23 at DraftKings Sportsbook. Claim the DraftKings Sportsbook promo code to bet on the North Carolina vs Portland game.
North Carolina is currently favored by 14 points, in a contest that features a total of 152. Tip-off is set for 1 pm ET at the Moda Center in Portland, Or, a separate arena from where the Pilots play their home games.
North Carolina Betting Analysis
Despite their top ranking, the Tar Heels enter play tied with Kentucky and Gonzaga for the second shortest price tag in the National Championship odds behind Houston. They’ve beaten all four opponents on their schedule, but none of those teams rank inside the top-40.
This week will be a good test for them, however they shouldn’t expect too much resistance from Portland – more on that later.
UNC is averaging 81 points per game, in spite of some pretty lousy shooting numbers. They rank 103rd in effective field goal percentage at 52.2%, and 293rd in three-point shooting percentage (28.8%). On paper, they should be a strong rebounding team, and after a slow start on the glass they finally woke up in their last outing. North Carolina outrebounded James Madison 50-34, led by Armando Bacot’s 23 boards, who last year’s third leading rebounder.
Career high 23 rebounds for Armando Bacot ✅ pic.twitter.com/AFubQzSdLY
— tarheelupdate (@tarheelupdate) November 20, 2022
The Tar Heels are winning games early on by protecting the ball and getting to the free throw line. They rank fourth in the nation in free throw makes, and sixth in attempts. They’re also top-20 in turnovers per play, giving up the ball on just 12% of their possessions.
Defensively, the numbers have below their standard, although they flashed potential in their last outing. They held the Dukes, the top scoring team in college hoops, to just a 34.8% shooting percentage, while limiting them to 25.9% from three.
Portland Pilots Betting Analysis
The Pilots meanwhile, are off to a 4-2 start. They took care of business against four teams ranked outside the top-185, but fell to both programs ranked 100th or better in Seattle and Kent State.
They struggled to score against both of their toughest opponents, averaging only 66.5 points per outing. In their other four contests against cupcake opposition, they averaged 85.5 points per game.
UNC prep 😤 pic.twitter.com/B15GH2aC8z
— Portland Pilots Men's Basketball (@PortlandMBB) November 23, 2022
Portland currently ranks 130th per KenPom in overall efficiency, after finishing 180th in that metric last season. They surrendered 80 and 77 points respectively to Seattle and Kent State, while committing a total of 39 turnovers.
They lack size in the front court which is going to be a nightmare against Bacot, Leaky Black and 6-11 senior Pete Nance. UNC should absolutely dominate on the glass, limiting second chance opportunities for the Pilots, while creating easy put backs and extra possessions in the Portland zone.
North Carolina vs Portland Prediction
Portland is the only team ranked outside the top-55 in the Phil Knight Invitational per KenPom. The Pilots check in at number 130, and they wouldn’t be involved if this tournament was taking place anywhere else.
It’s highly likely they’re going to get run out of the gym by the Tar Heels, with the biggest hurdle for them being trying put up points. If they struggled badly against the Redhawks and Golden Flashes, two programs ranked outside the top-100 in defensive efficiency, imagine the difficulty they’ll have against UNC.
North Carolina 2022-23 Results
|11/07/2022||UNC Wilmington||North Carolina||UNC, 69-56|
|11/11/2022||Charleston||North Carolina||UNC, 102-86|
|11/15/2022||Gardner-Webb||North Carolina||UNC, 72-66|
|11/20/2022||James Madison||North Carolina||UNC, 80-64|
The Tar Heels rank 34th in defensive efficiency and just neutralized the highest scoring team in the nation. They also play slow, which decreases Portland’s offensive ceiling. North Carolina ranks outside the top-100 in pace, which will result in fewer possessions for the Pilots than they are accustomed to.
Pick: Under 152 (-110)