The No. 4 North Carolina Tar Heels (15-3, 7-0 ACC) will look to keep their perfect conference record intact when they host the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (13-5, 5-2 ACC) on Monday night. The rivalry game tips off at 7 PM ET on ESPN.

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The Tar Heels ride a six-game overall winning streak into Monday’s contest at the iconic Dean Smith Center, where they’ve won eight straight. Led by senior forward and national player of the year candidate Armando Bacot (16.8 points, 10.4 rebounds per game), North Carolina boasts a prolific offense that ranks fifth nationally with 84.6 points per game. However, the Heels have been vulnerable defensively at times, allowing over 70 points six times during their strong 15-3 start.

Wake Forest and electric point guard Tyrell Ward (16.2 ppg, 4.7 apg) are capable of exploiting that porous defense. The Demon Deacons average a respectable 81.1 points per game themselves behind the ACC’s second-best three-point shooting attack at 39.3%. Wake Forest drilled 11 threes in an 82-79 upset over North Carolina on their home floor last season.

But defeating the skilled and experienced Tar Heels at the Dean Dome is an entirely different challenge. North Carolina has won 21 of the last 25 meetings with Wake Forest in Chapel Hill. Bacot, sharpshooting guard RJ Davis (team-high 20.2 ppg) and lockdown wing Leaky Black form the core of a North Carolina squad with legitimate national title aspirations.

That said, if Wake Forest’s supporting cast can provide offensive production to complement Ward and forward Andrew Carr (14.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg), they could hang around. The Demon Deacons are 5-1 in ACC road games this season, while North Carolina sports betting apps currently list the Tar Heels as modest -9.5 point favorites.

In a rivalry matchup between NCAA tournament hopefuls, this total seems low at 155.5 points. These offensive juggernauts combined for 161 points when they met in Winston-Salem on Jan. 4. Bettors confident the Tar Heels will impose their will at home could consider alternate point spread lines up to North Carolina -14.

But Wake Forest already has ACC road wins over Clemson, Louisville, Georgia Tech and Boston College so far. Carr and Ward give them enough firepower to produce another upset if North Carolina sleepwalks early or Bacot encounters foul trouble.

No matter if the Heels roll or the Deacons surprise, sports bettors across North Carolina can turn this marquee conference battle into a more engaging and profitable viewing experience. Be sure to take advantage of the best North Carolina sportsbook promos and North Carolina betting apps to make your wagering on this ESPN game even more enjoyable.

✅ Fact Checked on January 27, 2024 by Ken Weaver