The North Carolina General Assembly approved HB 347 in June 2023, a bill that legalizes betting on sports and horse racing across the state. The legislation received Governor Roy Cooper’s signature on June 14, 2023, and is set to come into effect on January 8, 2024. It allows for on-site betting at retail sportsbooks located within a 1.5-mile radius of any of the state’s eight professional sports facilities. Additionally, it accommodates the operation of up to 12 online sports betting platforms.
In anticipation of this new frontier in North Carolina, Tar Heel Blog will take a deep dive into the lines and odds of the North Carolina Tar Heels and give a few picks for gameday.
Is a competitive Week 1 matchup in college football the hardest bet in sports? With the transfer portal, there is less continuity in the rosters from the previous season. And these are still college kids. The trend lines from last year are still critical to making informed bets, but we may not know what we have until a month into the season.
Alright, let’s not make excuses. Here’s what we have this week.
Carolina and South Carolina have played twice in the Mack Brown 2.0 era, and in each game the underdog covered.
As 12-point dogs in 2019, UNC stormed back in the fourth quarter for a four-point victory.
In the 2021 Mayo Bowl, South Carolina flipped the spread on Carolina, going from 12.5-point dogs to 17-point winners.
The Gamecocks in Bank of America stadium favor the underdog. In each of their last four games in Uptown Charlotte, the underdogs have covered the spread.
If you were looking for the easy play on the dog, you do not have that luxury this week. If you look up and down the college football slate this week, this game is the second-most competitive according to the spread.
The Tar Heels opened as -1.5-point favorites and have just moved slightly to -2.5. The standard odds for a college football spread bet is -110, meaning that a $110 bets wins $100. Of the 44 Week 1 games, just six games have odds on the spread different than -110. Carolina versus South Carolina is one of those six games.
With UNC’s propensity for close games last season, the public sees value in taking South Carolina at +2.5 with -105 odds. However, in the first game of the season at a neutral location, I do not see this game being decided by less than a field goal. If a bettor is keen on the Cocks, the moneyline at +110 is a better play.
From the UNC perspective, here is the biggest factor influencing the betting lines: wide receiver Tez Walker. Walker should be Carolina’s top receiver, but the awful NCAA ruling on this eligibility is hurting him, his teammates, and UNC fans.
Could the NCAA do the right thing and provide their own type of Friday news dump and deem Walker eligible? If so, there could be a significant shift in the lines.
If you have that much faith in the NCAA, there is a tasty nugget on the alternate spreads. UNC at -3.5 is at +113. With the margins of victory in recent matchups between these two squads and the potential of this offense, a four-point Carolina victory is not out of the question.
Here’s another trend to muddy the waters: In the final five games of 2022, UNC’s offense did not live up to expectations, and the Tar Heels were under in four of those five games. Conversely, USC’s offense exceeded expectations, and the Gamecocks hit the over in four of the final five.
This week’s game opened at O/U 61.5 and has shifted to 64.5. There is some hesitancy to hammer the over despite the public being all over that bet.
Does the influence of Drake Maye and USC quarterback Spencer Rattler influence the game plans for the teams?
With the Tar Heels having a capable committee of running backs, will there be a bit more focus on the run? Keeping the ball from Rattler will be as important to UNC as it is for South Carolina not to let Maye do this thing.
Again, if you think Walker will play on Saturday, locking in the over now may be the move.
Let’s dig into some prop bets.
The best-looking prop bet on the board is the 1st quarter bet. UNC is favored at -130 on the moneyline for the 1st quarter but is at +110 odds for a -0.5 spread.
Is there a 47.62% chance that the Tar Heels lead the game by a point at the end of the first quarter? Let’s hammer it.
Another interesting play is for both teams to score in the 3rd quarter. In the final four games of the 2022 season, Carolina failed to score in the 3rd quarter.
These slow starts in the second half were part of the poor finish to the season, and as a Tar Heel fan, this is hopefully an issue that will be corrected this year.
However, as a bettor, the trends are the trends. And +155 odds on “No” to both teams scoring is worth a play.
The oddsmakers are banking on UNC’s big play ability from Maye as the longest touchdown of the game is favored for North Carolina at -135. However, you may be skeptical of the Carolina defense until they prove otherwise. A TD prop on the longest touchdown may have some value with South Carolina at -105.
Week 1 Picks
Spread: UNC -2.5
Alternate Spread UNC -3.5
O/U: U 64.5
“No” both teams score in the 3rd quarter
SC longest touchdown
Hammer: 1st Quarter UNC Spread -0.5
Hedge: SC moneyline