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North Carolina vs. West Virginia: Picks, best bets for Duke’s Mayo Bowl in Charlotte

The Tar Heels and Mountaineers meet in the home of the Carolina Panthers.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 18 North Carolina at Clemson Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The North Carolina Tar Heels face the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on Wednesday, December 27. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. ET from Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.

UNC (8-4, 4-4 ACC) had a great out-of-conference slate, but limped through the ACC. The Tar Heels recorded losses to Virginia and Georgia Tech alongside losses to Clemson and NC State in what turned out to be a disappointing year for a promising team. They were led by the much-touted Drake Maye at quarterback, who finished the year with over 3,600 passin gyards, 24 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. Maye will opt out of the bowl game to prepare for the draft. Running back Omarion Hampton, who finished the season with over 1,400 rushing yards, is expected to play.

WVU (8-4, 6-3 Big XII) wrapped up their 2023 season with back-to-back wins over Cincinnati and Baylor. The Mountaineers also grabbed wins over Texas Tech and UCF this season, and recorded losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, among others. West Virginia quarterback Garrett Greene finished the season with 13 rushing touchdowns, 15 passing touchdowns, and four interceptions. Lead RB CJ Donaldson will sit out of the bowl game with an injury.

Here’s everything you need to know and a pick for the bowl.

SP+ Rankings

UNC: 27 overall, 13 offense, 71 defense
WVU: 44 overall, 39 offense, 63 defense

List of injuries and players opting out of game

UNC

WR Kobe Paysour - Out (foot)
TE John Copenhaver - Out (lower body)
TE Bryson Nesbit - Out (lower body)
WR Nate McCollum - Questionable (lower body)
QB Drake Maye - Out (draft)
WR Tez Walker - Out (draft)
LB Cedric Gray - Out (draft)
C Corey Gaynor - Out (draft)

WVU

OL Zach Frazier - Out (undisclosed)
RB CJ Donaldson Jr. - Out (undisclosed)
WR Preston Fox - Questionable (undisclosed)
DL Mike Lockhart - Out (transfer portal)
S Hershey McLaurin - Out (transfer portal)

ATS/Total

Against The Spread in 2023

UNC: 6-6 ATS
WVU: 7-5 ATS

Total in 2023

UNC: Over 6-5-1
WVU: Over 8-4

Team Pace

UNC: 22.0 seconds per play
WVU: 28.7 seconds per play

Odds at DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: West Virginia -6.5
Total: 54
Moneyline: West Virginia -258, North Carolina +210

Weather

60°F, Cloudy, 8% chance of rain, 3 MPH winds

Our Best Bet for the Mayo Bowl

West Virginia -6.5

North Carolina will struggle to get things moving without Maye. Even with Hampton playing, the Tar Heels are missing more than a few key offensive pieces in their matchup. The Heels’ mediocre defense will struggle to contain Greene, RB Jahiem White and this WVU offense.