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While Kansas put forward the best performance of the Final Four, the Jayhawks were not the big story of Saturday night.
The North Carolina Tar Heels did the unthinkable, beating Duke in New Orleans and sending Mike Krzyzewski into retirement. The Tar Heel backcourt dominated once again, combining for 46 points in the winning effort.
As the last No. 1 seed in the tournament, Kansas continues to get slept on. The Jayhawks — to me — were the best team in the Final Four. The Jayhawks dominated Villanova in a wire-to-wire victory, draining timely shots every time the Wildcats came close.
But North Carolina has been undervalued all season, and the Tar Heels will be catching points heading into the national championship matchup.
Does UNC have value on Monday night? Or will Rock Chalk Jayhawk roll to Bill Self‘s second title?
Kansas vs. UNC National Championship Odds
Kansas vs UNC March Madness odds are provided by Caesars and are current as of April 2 at 11 p.m. ET
- Moneyline: Kansas (-200) vs UNC (+170)
- Spread: Kansas -4 (-110) vs UNC +4 (-110)
- Over/Under: Over 152.5 (-110) / Under 152.5 (-110)
- Implied Score: Kansas 78.25, UNC 74.25
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Kansas vs. UNC National Championship Prediction
So, Kansas and North Carolina haven’t played each other since 2013. For what it’s worth, Kansas has won the last three matchups with UNC.
But how do they match up in 2022?
The frontcourt matchup is going to be the story of this game. UNC has Armando Bacot and Brady Manek, who represent arguably the best interior duo in college basketball.
But Kansas’ David McCormack isn’t someone to mess around with. McCormack has posted the fourth-best ORB% of any player in the country, leading the Jayhawks to a top-36 ORB% mark.
In the end, the two team’s interior presences will neutralize. This game will likely come down to the perimeter, where Tar Heel guards Caleb Love and RJ Davis have been red-hot.
The two UNC guards have combined for 173 total points during this tournament run, or 34.6 per game. While both guards have been volatile in the second half of the season, the important thing is that coach Hubert Davis has given them the green light.
In the Duke game, Love and Davis took a combined 33 shot attempts. Both took some truly awful shots, but both also performed excellent when the moment got big. Love’s late-game 3 essentially sealed the deal for UNC against Duke.
But those guards will be matching up with Remy Martin, Christian Braun, and Ochai Agbaji.
At its core, Kansas is a collection of shot-makers. The Jayhawks grade out very low in offensive ball-screen sets, but a combination of flare screens and shot mechanics make it so Kansas can shoot 13-for-24 (54.2%) from deep against Villanova in a Final Four game.
While Martin didn’t have the best game on Saturday, Agbaji and Braun picked up the slack. The latter two combined for 31 points on 8-for-13 shooting from 3. Like Love did to Duke on Saturday night, Braun also made a late-game rainbow 3 that likely solidified Villanova’s fate.
Which starting five can find advantages in the national championship?
Kansas vs UNC Score Pick
Kansas 83, UNC 76
These two starting lineups match up well. But I think the superior defense will win the national championship.
The Kansas defense has been underrated throughout this March Madness run. The Jayhawks are known for their offense, but Kansas grades out in the top 50 nationally in defending pick-and-roll sets, off-screen sets, catch-and-shoot 3s, and post-up opportunities.
Villanova is one of the cleanest, most efficient offenses in the nation. But the Jayhawks made Villanova’s life insufferable. The Jayhawks held Collin Gillespie — one of the nation’s best point guards — to zero assists and three turnovers.
UNC is a solid defense, but mostly on the interior. The Tar Heels are second nationally in DRB% and eighth in opponent free-throw rate allowed. But on the perimeter, UNC is second-to-last nationally in both defensive turnover rate and defensive non-steal turnover rate.
North Carolina takes care of the ball, but the Jayhawks’ on-ball defense will be the stiffest test the Tar Heels have faced yet.
That will be the difference in this game.
Kansas vs Duke/UNC Best Bets
Kansas -4 (-110) at Caesars
WAGER: 1.0 unit
UNC has had an amazing second half of a season capped by two wins over its arch-rival.
But four points is too many against this Jayhawk squad.
KenPom makes this spread Kansas -6, and BarTorvik makes it Kansas -5.6. The projections show clear value on the Jayhawks.
When handicapping this game, I keep thinking about North Carolina’s green light against Kansas’ perimeter defense. Love and Davis will not get the same looks against Kansas as they did against Duke. And while the Tar Heel guards have shown they can make tough shots, this will be a whole different test.
Read more Kansas vs UNC betting tips
Meanwhile, Agbaji, Braun, and Martin will get the same offensive looks they got against Villanova. North Carolina’s perimeter defense grades out way worse than Villanova’s does, so perhaps the Jayhawk shotmakers will get better looks.
The only way for UNC to overcome this disadvantage is for Armando Bacot and Brady Manek to dominate. But after seeing how David McCormack played against the Villanova front line, I believe he’ll go tit-for-tat with the Tar Heel front line.
I’m also slightly worried about Bacot’s ankle. He rolled it late in the game against Duke, exiting the game briefly for the medics to examine.
Bacot came back into the game almost immediately, but I’m not disregarding the potential injury altogether. If Bacot isn’t 100%, that’s a huge problem for North Carolina’s interior offense and defense.
Either way, if I’m laying less than five points with Kansas, I’ll be on the Jayhawks.
Kansas vs UNC: Over 153 (-110) at Caesars
WAGER: 1.0 unit
This is a play on the early market movement.
At the time of this writing, only 50% of the tickets are on the over but over 90% of the handle is. The number has already been pushed up from the opener of 153 to 153.5 at many books.
Both UNC and Kansas are top-65 nationally in tempo, and both are top-150 nationally in the percentage of shots taken in transition.
These two either want to set the offense quickly or run the floor, and both those outcomes are beneficial for the over.
Moreover, both KenPom and BartTorvik project this total at exactly 154. So, it’s time to buy the over 153, and I would bet that up to 153.5.