It’s fitting that the two most dominant teams in the 2016 NCAA tournament will square off for the national championship on Monday night in Houston, as the second-seeded Villanova Wildcats (34–5) face the top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels (33–6).
The Wildcats will try to avenge an 83–69 loss in the 2009 Final Four to the Tar Heels, who were seven-point favorites in that game on their way to winning their last national title against the Michigan State Spartans. North Carolina is a consensus 2.5-point betting favorite versus Villanova this time around at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
The Wildcats used the second-best shooting performance in Final Four history to knock out the second-seeded Oklahoma Sooners, 95–51, as 2.5-point favorites Saturday. They made 71.4% from the field (35 of 49), and the only effort better than that (78.6%) came in 1985 when that edition of Villanova upset the top-seeded Georgetown Hoyas, 66–64, as a No. 8 seed in the NCAA championship game.
Villanova improved to 5–0 against the spread with that blowout win over the Sooners and broke the record for largest margin of victory in a Final Four game. The team is outscoring opponents by 24.2 points per game in the Big Dance and shooting a tourney-best 58.2% through five games.
The Tar Heels have been nearly as dominant and ride a 10-game winning streak into the national championship game while going 8–2 against the spread, according to the OddsShark College Basketball Database. They have won all of their tourney games by double figures, beating opponents by an average of 16.2 points and covering the spread in four straight.
Led by All-American forward Brice Johnson, North Carolina has a sizable advantage inside and will try to own the paint again like the team did in an 83–66 victory as a 10-point favorite against the 10th-seeded Syracuse Orange in the Final Four. The Tar Heels found holes down low in the Orange’s vaunted 2–3 zone defense and were able to capitalize with a lot of easy baskets despite poor three-point shooting.
This matchup will likely come down to which team shoots better at NRG Stadium. North Carolina ranked last in the ACC in three-point shooting during the regular season and is fortunate that has not been a factor yet. However, the Wildcats could make it a factor by blitzing the Tar Heels early on like they have almost every other opponent so far.
North Carolina has not felt any real pressure in the tourney unless you consider the team being up only one point at halftime of its first-round game against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. This is a huge step up in competition for the Tar Heels, who will likely need to make some big outside shots if they are going to cut down the nets and cover.