We’ve got a late-season heavyweight battle in the ACC as No. 17 North Carolina Tar Heels travel to face the No. 10 Miami Hurricanes in a top 25 showdown with both teams looking to finish the season with a signature win. Miami enters the game as a narrow 1.5-point favorite with the game total set at 67.5 on SportsBetting.com.
#17 North Carolina at #10 Miami
Date: Saturday, Dec. 12 – 3:30 PM ET
Odds: Miami -1.5
North Carolina Tar Heels
The Tar Heels entered the 2020 season with hopes of potentially competing for an ACC championship as a dark horse, but with three losses on the season – two of which came at the hands of an unranked opponent – things didn’t exactly shake out the way they’d hoped.
Still, North Carolina is a dangerous team, and that starts with its high-powered offense led by quarterback Sam Howell. One of the top second-year quarterbacks in the country, Howell has actually improved this season from his impressive true freshman season despite the Tar Heels’ struggles. Howell ranks in the top-15 nationally in terms of completion percentage (68.8), quarterback rating (181.1), and passing yards per game (312.90) and is leading an offense that ranks No. 5 in the country in total yardage, averaging 533.9 yards per game, and No. 12 in scoring offense with 40.2 points per game.
Defense, however, has been another story for North Carolina as the Tar Heels have failed to slow down opponents with consistency this season. North Carolina is allowing 420.8 yards per game this season, ranking No, 80 in the country, and ranks just No. 73 in the country in scoring defense, allowing 30.8 points per game. The Tar Heels have allowed their opponents to score more than 30 points in half of their games so far this season, with teams topping 40 points against them three times – including a 53-point scoring barrage from the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
North Carolina has proven its offense can hang with anyone, but its defense has not proven consistently up to the task this season.
The Hurricanes have quietly put together an impressive season in Miami, losing just one game to No. 3 Clemson back in early October. Outside of that lopsided loss to the Tigers, the Hurricanes don’t have another blemish on the season, entering this top-25 showdown with an 8-1 record and a top-10 ranking.
Much of Miami’s success this season has been due to the play of graduate transfer quarterback D’Eriq King, how joined Miami after leaving Houston during the offseason. King is averaging 259.3 per game through the air so far this season, but is also dangerous on the ground, with 467 rushing yards in nine games – over 50 yards per game. Behind King, Miami is putting up 38.9 points per game, which is good for No. 22 in the country, and 445.4 yards, which is good for No. 25 in the country.
While the offense leads the way, the Hurricanes’ defense has been strong, as well. So far this season, Miami is giving up 22 points and 366.2 yards per game, ranking No. 34 and No. 46 in the nation, respectively. The Hurricanes have held opponents under 20 points in most of their games so far this season, including a shutout performance last week against the Duke Blue Devils.
Miami is a well-rounded team that’s proven it can dominate a game on both sides of the ball.
While North Carolina does have the better offense in this game and has put up over 40 points in five of its last six games, Miami has been the more well-rounded and consistent team all season. The Hurricanes have a potent offense, a stingy defense and a veteran quarterback leading the way. Miami has the edge in this game and will pull out a victory on Saturday afternoon.
Pick: Miami -1.5