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Friday night college hoops mean that handicapper Ben Rajavuroi has lined up his best bet for tonight's action across the country. His pick comes from the ACC clash between the NC State Wolfpack and the Pitt Panthers.
ANALYSIS

NC State vs. Pittsburgh Prediction, Pick, Odds: Can NC State Cover the Massive Spread?

NC State vs. Pittsburgh Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

  • Date: December 2, 2022
  • Game Time: 7:00 pm ET
  • Where to Watch: ACCN

Click Here for NC State vs Pitt odds

The NC State Wolfpack and Pittsburgh Panthers open up their conference schedules tonight from Raleigh, North Carolina. NC State sits at 7-1 on the college basketball season, with their lone blemish coming against Kansas, one of the best teams in the nation. Pittsburgh has had a rockier start, opening the season with a 5-3 record. However, the Panthers are coming off a big win against Northwestern. Was that game enough to set Pittsburgh on the right track?

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NC State vs. Pittsburgh Prediction

Pittsburgh didn't just win on Monday against Northwestern. They dominated them. The Panthers handed the Wildcats a 58-87 loss and shot 64% from three in the process. Pittsburgh also won the rebound and turnover battle. The win was a step in the right direction for an otherwise struggling Panthers squad. Although they are 5-3, four of their wins have come against the low-tier competition, while all three of their losses came to top-100 Kenpom teams. NC State certainly qualifies, as they are 49th. The Panthers will need another stellar shooting effort to cover and potentially win this game outright, and the question is...can they?

One of the most important pieces of the Panther's offense is the junior center, John Hugley. The Panther's offense has several key offensive players, but Hugley was the leading scorer last season and leads the team in possessions when he has played. However, he has missed three games this season, and two of those games were two of their worst losses. His presence in the paint made him a pivotal piece of this offense the past few years, and Pittsburgh struggles both on offense and defense when he is not on the court. He is healthy for this game, which is big for the Panthers. The Panthers shot 14-22 from three in their win against Northwestern, and this is a trend for when Hugley is on the court. When Hugley doesn't play, the Panthers have shot 24% from three, compared to 39.5% when he plays. His presence in the paint draws attention, which opens up the court for the shooters on the perimeter, which is exactly how Pittsburgh opened such a large lead against Northwestern, even though Hugley only played 14 minutes.

NC State is a similar style team to Northwestern in that they defend the paint very well but can be prone to teams that can shoot from deep. Their defense ranks 87th in two-point conversions at 46.3%, while they allow opponents to shoot 34.3% from three, which is 205th in the nation. NC State and Pittsburgh score above the national average from three, meaning whatever team can get hot from three and maintain it will likely determine the winner. Considering Pittsburgh is catching double-digits here, I like their odds to cover better.

On paper, NC State has been playing better consistently, but Pittsburgh is hot at the moment, and Hugley getting closer to 100% makes the Panthers a threat in any game, let alone catching 10 points. Last season when these two teams met, Hugley was the player of the game in a 71-69 Pittsburgh win. That game was in Pittsburgh, but I'm not sold on NC State being double-digit favorites in this spot. I'll take a close game to open up conference play in the ACC.

NC State vs. Pittsburgh Pick

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Ben Rajavuori is a handicapper out of Minneapolis, MN. He has been creating sports content for almost four years now and is an expert in all things NFL, MLB, NBA, UFC, and NCAAB. Ben thrives on diving deep into statistics to find the best angle on every bet. You can follow him on Twitter @WeBeatTheSpread.

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