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Pirates vs. Tar Heels Preview/Pick

A Battle of the Carolina’s – East Carolina vs. North Carolina

East Carolina Pirates (1-1 SU, 0-1 ATS) at North Carolina Tar Heels (2-0 SU, 0-1 ATS)
Saturday, September 19 – Noon ET
BetUS NCAA College Football Betting Odds: NORTH CAROLINA -7.5, Total 42

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Here are some of the NCAA college football betting trends as they relate to this matchup:

ECU has won seven of its last ten games SU
ECU has covered one of its last nine road games
ECU has played four of its last six road games UNDER the total
NC has won 11 of its last 16 games SU
NC has won eight of its last 11 home games SU

North Carolina can play some defense, without question, but the Tar Heels had quite a narrow escape in their first outing against Division I competition. The Heels had to score 12 points in the final quarter, including a safety with 1:32 left when U-Conn was penalized in their end zone, to eke out a 12-10 win, which did not cover for their betting faithful. This running game is a work in progress, although with Shawn Draughn (866 yards last year) they should do better.

What’s key for North Carolina, however, is its ability to utilize quickness to rush to the ball, which has the potential to stymie an East Carolina offense that is ranked 102nd nationally through the first two games. Patrick Pinkney, who completed 61% of his passes last season, has only been 42% accurate through the first two games, and against West Virginia in the 35-20 college football betting loss they suffered, neither running back – Brandon Jackson or Dominique Lindsay – was able to do much to make up that difference.

It’s not so much that East Carolina had a poor third down conversion rate against the Mountaineers (they were in fact at 35%), but it’s the number of times they put themselves in a third down situation (17). That isn’t going to work on a consistent basis against North Carolina. There’s no guarantee, however, that the Heels will be able to get itself going consistently on offense either; it is not easy to replace receivers like Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate (which they found out last year when Tate was injured).

ECU usually hangs tough as a road underdog (15-5 ATS last 20 in that situation). If the Pirates do it, they will do it with defense. North Carolina has those scary linebackers with all that speed, assembled by Butch Davis the way he did it at his previous stop in Miami. We’re looking at the total here – moving UNDER the 42 points as it is posted in the BetUS NCAA college football betting odds.


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