2020 North Carolina Tar Heels NCAA Basketball National Championship Odds with Predictions
Like so many top teams this year, the North Carolina Tar Heels are dealing with a whole lot of change yet hoping that they don't miss a beat while adapting to dramatic adjustments. And these aren't changes like they are necessarily used to, either. They lost two freshmen to the draft last year after losing the same number in total in the last 13 years. And they are relying on two grad transfers this year - the same number they have had in the last eight years combined. Like Coach K and others, Roy Williams is showing the willingness to adapt to a new reality. Oddsmakers seem to be reasonably optimistic about their chances. Should they be?
North Carolina Tar Heels Additions/Losses
The team will have a very different look this year, as they have said goodbye to four of last year's starters. As we mentioned at the outset, two of them were freshmen who left after just one year. Point guard Coby White made a big impact in his one year, winding up second in scoring and leading the team in assists. He was a steal for the Bulls with the seventh pick and has a bright NBA future. And Nassir Little didn't live up to the hype of being the third overall recruit in the country last year, not starting a game and averaging just 18 minutes off the bench, but he still showed enough potential to be the 25th pick by Portland. And sandwiched in between those two was Cameron Johnson, the first senior off the board when he was taken 11th overall by Minnesota and then traded to Phoenix. Johnson started every game last year and led the team in scoring. Also gone is Luke Maye, one of those guys who seems like he had a 14-year college career. Maye played in 141 games at North Carolina over four years and started every game his last two years. But a small step back in production last year from his junior levels proved costly at draft time. He landed with the Bucks as a free agent, was waived, and is now with their G League team. So, the team said goodbye to three starters and a bench player good enough to be a first-round pick. That's a lot to make up for. And it doesn't end there, either. They also lost three-year starter Kenny Williams to graduation, though the shooting guard was not nearly as flashy as some of his departed teammates. He is on the Spurs' G League team now. The only returning starter is Garrison Brooks, a junior forward who was the top interior defender on the team despite frequently having to play out of position. He took a step forward last year and will have to take another big one this year to help the team out.
The biggest cause for optimism despite so many losses is the arrival of Cole Anthony, the fourth-rated recruit in the country, and a point guard who is expected to be among the top picks in the draft in 2020. The New Yorker scores even better than he passes, and he plays with the physicality of a linebacker. Expectations are extremely high, and he is widely talked about as North Carolina's top recruit in the Roy Williams era - which is saying something. Expectations are also high for the second five-star addition in the freshman class, forward Armando Bacot. He's seven inches taller than the 6'3" Anthony, and he's a big rebounder who can score from close in.
The two grad transfers came from nontraditional spots - guard Christian Keeling is from Charleston Southern, and wing Justin Pierce comes from William & Mary. Keeling is a consistent scorer while Pierce is a solid rebounder who runs the pick and roll well. Both will have chances to prove themselves.
North Carolina Tar Heels Schedule
The nonconference schedule is tough, though it includes some ACC opponents that they are seeing earlier than usual. For example, they open against Notre Dame , and they play at Virginia in Early December. Along with that they face some more traditional opponents for the first two months of the season. They are heading to the Battle 4 Atlantis where they could face Michigan, and potentially Gonzaga in the finals. Even if they don't face the Bulldogs then, though, they will face them a few weeks later when they head to Spokane. Three days later they play UCLA in Las Vegas. And earlier, they play a ranked Ohio State team in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. In conference play, they get a bit of a break in only playing Louisville once . They play rival Duke twice, though, with the road game coming in the final game of the season. College basketball fans not affiliated with those two programs will be hoping there is something left to decide when that game rolls around.
North Carolina Tar Heels Futures Odds and Trends
At +1600, North Carolina is tied with Florida as the seventh pick to win the national title. They are the fourth choice to win the tough ACC at +600, trailing Duke, Louisville and Virginia. The season win total is set at 26.
They won 29 games last year, and were a very solid 22-12-2 ATS, which is nicely profitable for loyal bettors. Small profits could be made on the total as well - they went under 16 times and over 20.
North Carolina Tar Heels Predictions
I feel like there is a bit too much optimism around this team. Anthony could be special, but a whole lot of pressure will be on his shoulders. It's tough for a team that relied so heavily on veteran leadership last year to adapt to not having it now. The ceiling is high, but the margin for error is small. I lean slightly to the under on the season win total, and don't see the Tar Heels as a true national contender.
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