NCAA Basketball Odds: Tar Heels To Continue Maui Magic Vs. Badgers

North Carolina Tarheels  player in action

Wednesday, November 23, 2016 3:17 PM GMT

The Maui Invitational holiday basketball tournament bids another season aloha with a dandy matchup for Wednesday's final as No. 4 North Carolina is -4 on NCAA basketball odds against No. 16 Wisconsin. My season record is 5-7 (-2.70 units).

Offseason conditioning programs at North Carolina and Wisconsin get their first real tests of the year when the Tar Heels and Badgers each take the floor for the third consecutive day in the Maui Invitational Championship game on Wednesday

They're not the only ones to put in overtime in Hawaii as Oregon and Connecticut meet in the finals of the consolation side of the Maui bracket, while Georgetown and Oklahoma State vie for third- and fourth-place honors. But the Top-20 matchup at the Lahaina Civic Center clearly has the marquee. ESPN2 is set to carry the tilt, likely going off around 10 p.m. (ET). Early numbers at BetOnline had UNC favored by 4 with 143 as the total.

 

UW Uses Inside Game, UNC Scores From Everywhere

Just as their opening-round win over Tennessee, Wisconsin came out strong early against Georgetown on Tuesday but never could put the Hoyas away. The Badgers built 7-point leads several times in the initial 20 minutes but needed a late layup to take a 3-point lead into the locker room.

Greg Gard's group proved too tough in the second half to eventually pull away for the 73-57 decision that easily covered the 5.5-point spread on the closing NCAA basketball odds. Ethan Happ posted a double-double (19 pts, 15 reb) to lead the Badgers on an off night from outside where they converted just 5-for-22 from 3-point range.

North Carolina managed to find the bucket everywhere on the court in a 107-75 whipping of Oklahoma State, giving Roy Williams and the Tar Heels their first 6-0 start since 2008-09 when they also won the Maui Invitational en route to the national championship. Joel Berry II led a half-dozen North Carolina players in double digits with 24 points, the junior guard adding four assists and three steals. The Heels got away with 16 turnovers thanks to shooting nearly 58% on the evening, sinking 8-for-17 from 3-point range and dropping in 25 of 29 from the charity stripe.

 

Can Badgers Slow Hot-Shooting Heels?

There is some recent history between the two sides, though much of the personnel has changed since their meeting in the Sweet 16 of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Favored by 6, Wisconsin battled back in the second half for a 79-72 decision to knock UNC out of the Big Dance. That was their first clash since the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in 2011, a 60-57 win for the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill.

North Carolina is connecting on more than 50% of its field goals to begin the season, something we know can't be maintained over the long haul. The next two games -- tonight vs. Wisconsin and a week from now at Indiana -- should temper that a bit but this is still a scary-good team.

The Badgers have to find their touch from outside to open up UNC's defense if they're going to have a chance. Wisconsin's key for a potential upset will be Nigel Hayes, a beast in the win over the Vols but quiet against Georgetown. The Tar Heels take this one, laying the points for my free college basketball pick.

NCAAB Free Pick: UNC -4

Best Line Offered: BetOnline

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3120270, "sportsbooksIds":[1096,19,169,180,1275], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1 }[/]