The Daily Sweat: North Carolina tries to turn around a lukewarm start against Indiana

Late last regular season, North Carolina had practically no quality wins and the best thing about their NCAA tournament resume was the "North Carolina" name at the top of it.

We know what happened. North Carolina eliminated any question about whether it was worthy of making the tournament by winning at Duke, then went on a run in the Big Dance that led them to the championship game. UNC had most of its players back and started the season as just about everyone's pick as the No. 1 team in the nation.

Maybe we shouldn't have overrated that tourney run. North Carolina hasn't been the team everyone expected it to be.

UNC is 5-2 with losses last week to Iowa State and Alabama. The Alabama loss came in three overtimes, but it's not just the losses. The Tar Heels have rarely looked impressive, sometimes struggling against lesser competition like Gardner Webb and Portland. UNC is 1-5-1 against the spread this season, according to, which is telling.

North Carolina is a 5.5-point underdog at BetMGM for Wednesday night's game at Indiana. Oddsmakers have noticed the Tar Heels' mediocre start to the season.

The Tar Heels are without tourney star Brady Manek this season, and they're struggling to shoot from the outside. They're hitting just 30.8 percent of their 3-point shots, which is 262nd in the nation, according to KenPom. Caleb Love is trying to do too much and he hasn't been efficient. UNC hasn't been great on defense either.

Indiana is 6-0 but the Hoosiers have played a soft schedule. Their only decent opponent this season was Xavier, who they beat by two points. But it's a good team led by player of the year candidate Trayce Jackson-Davis.

North Carolina will be a very good team. There's too much talent to believe otherwise, and last season's surge wasn't fluky. But the Tar Heels aren't starting the season as they'd hoped. Bettors who liked them have lost on the Tar Heels a lot already.

North Carolina coach Hubert Davis talks with Caleb Love (2) and Seth Trimble (0). The Tar Heels are off to a disappointing 5-2 start. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
North Carolina coach Hubert Davis talks with Caleb Love (2) and Seth Trimble (0). The Tar Heels are off to a disappointing 5-2 start. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Here's a first look at the sports betting slate for Wednesday:

World Cup group stage winds down

Two more groups will be settled on Wednesday with four matches in Qatar. Yahoo Sportsbook's Nick Bromberg has the betting previews for Tunisia-France, Australia-Denmark, Poland-Argentina and Saudi Arabia-Mexico.

More college basketball action

The other marquee game in college basketball, also part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, is Ohio State at Duke. Duke, which has a young team led by new coach Jon Scheyer, already has losses to Kansas and Purdue. They are 5.5-point favorites against Ohio State, which is off to a solid 5-1 start. Duke is getting healthier, but that might be too many points against a solid Buckeyes team. Michigan State, which is a 2.5-point favorite at Notre Dame, is another entertaining matchup.

NBA and NHL continue on

The NBA has 13 games and the NHL has 4 on Wednesday night. One of the more interesting games of the night in the NBA is the Philadelphia 76ers at the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs cooled off after a great start, but they're still 13-8. The 76ers played well with almost all of their key players out with injuries and are 12-9. Cleveland is a 3.5-point favorite. Another fun matchup is the Toronto Raptors at the New Orleans Pelicans. The Raptors, who just got Pascal Siakam back from injury, are a 1.5-point favorite.

What's the best bet?

I'll take the 76ers. Joel Embiid is back for Philadelphia and the Cavaliers have been up and down since an 8-1 start. I'll grab the points with Philadelphia.