CBB Picks: Take Michigan-UNC Over in Big Ten-ACC Challenge


The North Carolina Tar Heels have been involved in some of the most entertaining games during the first few weeks of the college basketball season.

That is not exactly what UNC would like to see under first-year head coach Hubert Davis, but it is going to take time for its defense to find more consistency.

North Carolina gave up 93 points to Purdue and 89 points to Tennessee in its two highest-profile nonconference games. The Tar Heels also conceded over 80 points to Brown and Charleston.

The Tar Heels have made up for that average defense by shooting the ball well. UNC ranks 12th in offensive three-point percentage on KenPom and it is averaging 83.2 points per game.

UNC faces another tough nonconference challenge on Wednesday, as it welcomes Michigan to the Smith Center in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge.

Michigan needs a signature win after losing out of conference against Arizona and Seton Hall. The Wolverines can play at a decent pace if they like as well. They rank 14th in offensive two-point percentage and 14th in adjusted offensive efficiency on KenPom.

The clash of blue blood programs is the centerpiece of Wednesday's Big Ten-ACC Challenge slate and it could give us plenty of offensive fireworks.

Wednesday CBB Picks

Overall Record: 38-44 (4-2 Tuesday)

South Carolina (-5.5) at Coastal Carolina (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

South Carolina is off to a quiet 5-1 start.

All of the Gamecocks' victories have come against mid-major programs and it faces another one of those opponents on Wednesday in the form of Coastal Carolina.

Coastal is 2-2 and it sits near the bottom of a few offensive metrics. The Chanticleers are 350th in three-point percentage and 355th in free-throw percentage.

South Carolina's defense is better across the board. It holds opponents to 64.2 points per game, which is five points better than Coastal.

Frank Martin's team also averages 5.3 blocks and 9.0 steals per game. If South Carolina's defense is effective, it should run away with its sixth win.

Cincinnati (-3.5) at Miami (Ohio) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

I've been intrigued by Cincinnati for a week or two now.

The Bearcats pushed Arkansas for 40 minutes, but then they suffered a shocking home loss to Monmouth over the weekend.

Cincinnati is in the perfect bounce-back spot against Miami (Ohio). The RedHawks have some deceiving numbers. They average 85.3 points per game, but they played two teams outside the top 200 on KenPom and lost to Western Illinois in their last trip to the hardwood. Western Illinois held Miami (Ohio) to 67 points on Saturday.

Cincinnati has much better defensive metrics than Western Illinois, including the fifth-best defensive effective field-goal and two-point percentages.

The edge here goes to the better defensive team.

Ball State at Western Illinois (-3.5) (7 p.m. ET)

Speaking of Western Illinois, I'm going back to the Leathernecks again tonight.

Western Illinois owns wins over Nebraska, Northern Kentucky and Miami (Ohio) and it lost by a combined eight points to DePaul and Eastern Michigan.

Ball State is 1-3 in away and neutral-site games and it gives up six more points per game than Western Illinois.

Western Illinois could also break open the game on the glass. The Leathernecks average eight more rebounds per game than the Cardinals.

Memphis (-11.5) at Georgia (7:15 p.m. ET, SEC Network)

Georgia is a broken program.

Tom Crean has not done anything to boost Georgia's standing inside the SEC.

The Bulldogs are 2-5 with double-digit losses to Georgia Tech, Northwestern and Virginia.

Memphis has much more talent than Georgia, but it is still working through the growing pains of the early season.

The Tigers were blown out by Iowa State in their last game on Friday, but that result will be more of an outlier when you look at their resume in March.

Memphis can overwhelm Georgia with the Emoni Bates-Jalen Duren duo and take out some frustrations from losing to Iowa State in the process.

Washington State at Arizona State (Over 139.5) (7:30 p.m. ET, Pac 12 Network)

While we are on the topic of broken programs, let's talk about Arizona State.

The Sun Devils are on a four-game losing streak. They fell to Baylor, Syracuse and Loyola Chicago at the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Arizona State gave up over 75 points in each of those contests. We should see that trend continue against a Washington State team that has regularly been over 70 points this season.

The Sun Devils will not blowout the Cougars, and in order to win, they must reach the 70-point mark in a close game, which is why the over is in play here.

Michigan at North Carolina (Over 151.5) (9:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Michigan and UNC both rank in the top 20 on KenPom in offensive adjusted efficiency.

The Tar Heels are a top 20 three-point team and the Wolverines are a top 10 two-point team.

Michigan plays at a slower pace, but it may be drawn into a faster game in Chapel Hill against a Tar Heels team that ranks 47th in adjusted tempo.

North Carolina gives up 78.7 points per game and both teams are shooting over 48 percent from the field.

Sign me up for a high-scoring blue blood clash to finish off the slate.


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