Game: North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Kansas Jayhawks
Time: 9:00 p.m. ET
Odds: Tar Heels +4, Jayhawks -4
The 2022 college basketball national championship is set for tonight between two of the sport’s blueblood programs. North Carolina was an afterthought at the beginning of the new season after head coach Roy Williams retired giving way to new mentor Hubert Davis. Kansas was among the early favorites and was the only No. 1 seed to make it to the Final Four.
The Jayhawks have won 10 straight and while their offense is among the top 25 in the nation it has been the defense that has really stepped it up during the tournament. In five games thus far in the tourney, head coach Bill Self’s defense has allowed a measly 60.8 points per game. That’s over seven points less than the Jayhawks’ season average (67.2 ppg).
In their semifinal win over Villanova, the Wildcats managed to hang around for a while by shooting 42 percent from three-point range. The problem for Villanova was the Kansas defense only allowed the Wildcats to shoot 9-for-26 on two-point attempts. Plus, the Jayhawks forced nine turnovers which helped Kansas eliminate Villanova 81-65.
Ochai Agbaji has been the Jayhawks’ best player throughout the season. He shot 6-of-7 from the perimeter and scored 21 points in the semifinal win. David McCormack actually led Kansas with 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting. He also had nine rebounds. Both players, along with Remy Martin, will play huge roles tonight for Kansas.
North Carolina is 11-1 in its last 12 games. Two of those victories came against Duke spoiling some milestones for Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski. The Tar Heels beat Duke in the final regular-season game ruining Krzyzewski’s last home game. Then, UNC beat the Blue Devils in the national semifinal on Saturday ending the Duke coach’s legendary career.
The Tar Heels have plenty of scorers. Caleb Love led North Carolina in the win over Duke with 28 points. Armando Bacot continues to average a double-double after an 11-point, 21-rebound effort against the Blue Devils. Bacot averages 16.3 points and 13.1 rebounds this season.
North Carolina is 5-0 SU and ATS in its last five games, all in the NCAA tournament. Kansas is 7-2 ATS in its last nine and 3-2 ATS in the tournament. The Jayhawks’ last straight-up loss was on March 1 to TCU. They avenged that loss two nights later with a 72-68 win over the Horned Frogs and haven’t lost since.
Both teams are strong in transition and play at an up-tempo pace. UNC ranks in the top 100 in average possession length and Kansas scores 1.1 points per possession in transition. Kansas has played three games against teams that rank in the top 100 in both average possession length and adjusted offensive efficiency. North Carolina has played four such games. Each of the seven resulted in the total going Over.
The Over has cashed in 12 of the Tar Heels’ last 18 games and nine of the last 12 when they have been the underdog. The Over is 8-4 in the Jayhawks’ 12 neutral site games this season.