The North Carolina Tar Heels take on the Virginia Tech Hokies. Check out our college basketball odds series for our North Carolina Virginia Tech prediction and pick.

The North Carolina Tar Heels are not improving. They’re not. Maybe they soon will, but if you were looking for a clear sign that they had begun to emerge from their early-season funk after a difficult weekend in Portland over Thanksgiving, they didn’t provide it in their loss to Indiana this past week in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. North Carolina’s offense was bottled up by Indiana’s halfcourt defense. The Hoosiers played the locked-in defense North Carolina had displayed in its big March Madness run last spring. Indiana showed the kind of connected two-way play North Carolina had captured in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, but has been unable to sustain in the first month of the new season.

North Carolina got solidly outplayed by Indiana. The Hoosiers shot 50 percent, Carolina 34. Indiana big man Trayce Jackson-Davis outplayed North Carolina big man Armando Bacot at both ends of the floor. TJD had 21 points, Bacot 12. TJD blocked four shots, Bacot one. Leaky Black did not score in 30 minutes of play. UNC made just 5 of 18 3-pointers. There was no particularly strong indication that North Carolina had moved forward and learned something from its consecutive losses the previous weekend to Iowa State on Nov. 25 and Alabama on Nov. 27. The Tar Heels have lost three straight games. They don’t have a high-end win on their resume just yet. They struggled in the first three months of last season. They have certainly struggled in the first month of the new season. Hubert Davis was able to crack the code and unlock his team’s potential in February of last season. He can’t wait until February of this season — or at least, he can’t bank on doing that. A veteran group ought to be able to evolve more quickly, and that’s why this game is so important, beyond the fact that it’s the ACC opener for both sides.

Virginia Tech won the ACC Tournament last season under coach Mike Young. The Hokies are 7-1 this season, losing to Charleston but grabbing wins over Big Ten opponents Penn State and Minnesota. Now the Hokies move into ACC play, hoping to get off to a strong start and gaining leverage both in the ACC race and in the battle for an NCAA Tournament at-large berth, which the Hokies were unlikely to get when the 2022 ACC Tournament began. Virginia Tech, like North Carolina, took a long time to evolve last season and wants to be able to get into a groove much earlier this season. Virginia Tech hasn’t fallen into a rut the way UNC has, but Virginia Tech has played a softer schedule, so it’s not as though one can clearly say the Hokies are a much more complete team at this point. This game will show how far they have actually come, for better or worse.

Courtesy of FanDuel, here are the North Carolina-Virginia Tech College Basketball odds.

College Basketball Odds: North Carolina-Virginia Tech Odds

North Carolina Tar Heels: +0.5 (-105)

Virginia Tech Hokies: -0.5 (-115)

Over: 141.5 (-110)

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Under: 141.5 (-110)

Why North Carolina Could Cover the Spread

This team is not going to lose four straight games. There will be an urgency in the UNC huddle which will lead to a more inspired effort against a less-than-proven Virginia Tech squad.

Why Virginia Tech Could Cover the Spread

The Tar Heels are still looking for an identity and for the two-way play they displayed last March in their run to the NCAA Tournament’s national championship game. It’s very hard to trust UNC right now, especially on the road.

Final North Carolina-Virginia Tech Prediction & Pick

North Carolina’s lack of cohesion is glaring, but the Tar Heels have lost three straight games. It’s hard to think they will lose four in what is essentially a pick ’em game.

Final North Carolina-Virginia Tech Prediction & Pick: North Carolina +0.5