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Kansas vs. North Carolina Spread, Odds and Best Bets for Men's National Championship

The final game of March Madness tips-off on Monday night when Kansas takes the floor against North Carolina.

National Championship Bets: Kansas vs. North Carolina

The hype of Duke and North Carolina meeting for the first time ever in the men's NCAA tournament,in Mike Krzyzewski's final game on the sidelines, lived up to its billing. The Tarheels advanced to the title game after upsetting the Blue Devils, 81-77.

Meanwhile, Kansas punched their ticket to Monday’s championship game after rolling over Villanova 81-65. The Jayhawks, who have beaten their tournament opponents by an average of 16.2 points per game, now lead Kentucky by three games on the all-time win list.

Can North Carolina join the 1985 Villanova team as the only No. 8 seed to win the NCAA tournament or will Kansas cut down the nets for the first time since 2008.

A quick glance of the opening odds for Monday’s tilt reveals that oddsmakers at SI Sportsbook are leaning in the direction of a letdown for the Tarheels. The spread puts North Carolina in the role of healthy underdogs for the fourth time in this year’s tournament.

North Carolina's Leaky Black (left) and Kansas's Ochai Agbaji (right)

What are the Odds?

No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks

Spread: No. 8 North Carolina +4.5 | No. 1 Kansas -4.5

Total: 152– Over | Under 152

Moneyline: UNC +160 | Kansas -200

Game Info: Monday, April 4, 2022 9:20 p.m. EST | CBS

Records: UNC: 29-9 (SU); 21-16-1 (ATS) | KU: 33-6 (SU); 20-18-1 (ATS)

Site: Caesars Superdome - New Orleans, LA

Editor's Note - Odds are subject to change.

How Did We Get Here?

Kansas enters the NCAA title game on a 10-game winning streak, after thoroughly beating Villanova, 81-65, in the Final Four. The Jayhawks, who will be making their 10th championship game appearance in program history, have rewarded bettors over their most recent 10-game span with a lucrative 7-3 Against The Spread (ATS) mark. Following the dominant 16-point victory over the Wildcats as 4-point favorites, Kansas now finds a slightly profitable 3-2 ATS mark in the NCAA tournament.

Kansas crushed Texas Southern 83-56 as 21.5-point favorites in the first round, but then struggled with two Big East opponents in the next several rounds. The Jayhawks got by Creighton, 79-72, but failed to cover as 13.5-point favorites and then did enough to move past Providence 66-61 in the Sweet 16, but once again failed to cover the 7.5-point spread. In the Elite Eight, Kansas used a dominant second-half performance to blow-out Miami 76-50 as 6-point favorites.

North Carolina will appear in their 12th NCAA championship game after earning one of the biggest wins in program history with their Final Four victory. The Tar Heels upset Duke 81-77 in Mike Krzyzewski's final game as coach of the Blue Devils, as 4-point underdogs.

North Carolina, who is 11-1 SU in their last twelve games, have rewarded bettors with a lucrative 10-2 ATS mark over that span. North Carolina dismantled Marquette, 95-63, as 3.5-point favorites in the opening round and then followed that by upsetting No. 1 seed Baylor 93-86 in overtime as 5.5-point underdogs. In the Sweet 16, North Carolina beat UCLA 73-66 as 3-point underdogs and then blew out St. Peters in the Elite Eight 69-49 as 8.5-point favorites.

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In the men's NCAA tournament, the Tar Heels have been targets of sharp bettors in Vegas quite often and they certainly have not disappointed. Hubert Davis’ squad owns betting supremacy as the only team sporting a perfect 5-0 ATS mark, including a 3-0 ATS record when placed in the role of underdogs.

Will History Repeat Itself?

The matchup between Villanova and Kansas in the Final Four marked the fourth NCAA tournament bout between the two Blue Bloods. The winner of each of these previous three matchups (2008, 2016, 2018) has eventually emerged as National Champions. Will that trend continue?

Wait, there's more.

En route to their 2008 championship, Kansas beat Villanova 72-57 in the Sweet 16 and also beat North Carolina 84-66 in the Final Four. Since 2008, Bill Self and the Jayhawks faced off with the Tar Heels three times in the NCAA tournament. A deeper dive reveals that Kansas is 3-0 both SU and ATS against North Carolina in those meetings.

Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji (30) celebrates with Jalen Wilson (10), Remy Martin (11) and K.J. Adams (24) after their win against Villanova in a college basketball game in the semifinal round of the Men’s Final Four NCAA tournament, Saturday, April 2, 2022, in New Orleans.

Kansas: Star Power Stepping Up

Kansas’ leading scorer Ochai Agbaji (18.9 ppg) was struggling to find his stroke from the outside through the first three rounds, but he's broken out of mini-slump in a big way in his last two games. The sharpshooting senior filled up the box score with 18 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals in the club’s Elite Eight win over Miami and then followed that up with a breakout performance against Villanova. Agbagi hit more threes (six) in the Final Four victory than he had in the entire tournament combined (four), en route to his first 20-plus point effort in his last six games. The Jayhawks will need the Big 12’s regular season leading scorer to match the potent production of North Carolina’s dynamic point guard Caleb Love.

Kansas’ David McCormack, who is averaging 10.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, stepped up for the Jayhawks with his best game of the season in the Final Four win over the Wildcats. In the Final Four, McCormack scored a season-high 25 points on the strength of hitting 10-of-12 (83.3%) from the field while grabbing nine rebounds.

Senior Arizona State transfer Remy Martin, who was arguably the best “Sixth Man” early on in the NCAA tournament averaging 16.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists, struggled against Villanova scoring just three points. In order for Kansas to cut down the nets, he'll need to pick up his scoring after averaging just 6.0 points per game in the Elite Eight and Final Four.

Jalen Wilson is the X-Factor for Rock Chalk in the NCAA tournament. The sophomore, who has produced three double-doubles in the tournament, has been a beast on the boards averaging a team high 10.8 rebounds. The one area the versatile forward’s game has been lacking involves his outside shooting where he has hit just 3-of-20 attempts (15%). In the championship game, the Jayhawks will need Wilson to produce from beyond the arc in order to keep North Carolina from collapsing down low on McCormack in the paint.

North Carolina’s Caleb Love (2) celebrates after North Carolina’s win against Duke in a college basketball game during the semifinal round of the Men’s Final Four NCAA tournament, Saturday, April 2, 2022, in New Orleans.

North Carolina: Dominant Post Play, Dynamic Point Guard

The Tar Heels possess the most balanced scoring squad of any team in the country with four players averaging in double digits, each of which have the ability to take over a game on any given night.

Leading the cast of superb Tar Heels is point guard Caleb Love, who is averaging 20 points per game in the tournament. Love, who scored a game-high 28 in the win over Duke on Saturday, has been lethal from beyond the arc hitting 18-of-50 (36%) shots. After struggling in the club’s overtime win over Baylor with more turnovers (six) than points (five), the star sophomore has stepped up in victories over Duke as well as the Sweet 16 against UCLA averaging 29.0 points on the strength of shooting 50% from the field on 44 attempts.

If they handed out the Most Outstanding Player (MOP) award today it would be hard to argue against North Carolina’s Armando Bacot. The junior has been one of the best players in the tournament averaging 15.4 points, 16.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. Bacot has been a steady presence for Hubert Davis’ squad all season, recording an astounding 30 double-doubles in 38 games. The talented big-man has been incredible on the boards of late with back-to-back 20-plus rebound efforts in the Elite Eight and Final Four.

R.J. Davis has been arguably North Carolina’s most consistent all-around player in the tournament averaging 14.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. The one area that many may easily overlook is how the emerging sophomore has performed from the free-throw line. Overall in the tournament, Davis has converted 24-of-26 (92.3%) from the charity stripe, many of which have come in critical situations down the stretch.

There are not enough superlatives to describe the play of Brady Manek in this year’s tournament. The senior Oklahoma transfer is averaging 20 points per game throughout March Madness, thanks to hitting at a 45% clip on 40 attempts from beyond the arc. One wager all bettors should keep an eye on involves Manek’s three-point market which has been consistently listed with an over/under of 2.5 made attempts. The sharp shooting 6’9” forward has cashed for over bettors in all five games. There have yet to be any player proposition markets released for Monday’s clash, but if the market remains at 2.5 for a sixth straight game, bettors should be ready to pounce.

Apr 2, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Armando Bacot (5) is helped off the court after sustaining an apparent injury after a play against the Duke Blue Devils during the second half during the 2022 NCAA men’s basketball tournament Final Four semifinals at Caesars Superdome.

Key Match-Up

This area of the breakdown should easily involve discussing the showdown of elite scoring guards Caleb Love and Ochai Agbaji. However, an ankle injury in the late stages of the second half to Armando Bacot changes all of that.

To get a better read on his Bacot's status look no further than head coach Hubert Davis had this to say moments after the win over Duke:

From that light-hearted response it appears the ankle sprain, which only kept Bacot off the court for a few minutes in the win over Duke, will not keep the vital member of the Tar Heel lineup off the court on Monday. However, the question that all bettors must answer now: will Bacot's ankle hinder his ability against Kansas big-man David McCormack? As we know, McCormack is coming off a career outing against Villanova and should Bacot be limited in any way, the Jayhawks would have a major advantage on the inside.

High-Powered Offenses

Hoping to see a high scoring affair in the final game of the season? Well, you are in luck with this matchup of high-powered offenses. Only a few decimal points separate these two high-octane offensive attacks. Kansas ranks just ahead averaging 78.4 points per game this season, while North Carolina is at 78.1.

Both clubs are efficient from the field with Kansas shooting 48%, while North Carolina trails just behind shooting 45.8%.

However, the Tar Heels hold the edge in three categories: three-point shooting at 37.4% to Kansas’ 36.1%, at the free-throw line 77.0% to 71.5% as well as rebounds per game at 36.9 to 35.1.

North Carolina is exceeding their season scoring average by 4.1 points per game in the NCAA tournament at 82.2, while Kansas stands slightly less proficient at 77.0 points per game, 1.4 off their season average.

An interesting item to note, despite drawing 79% of bets on the over (both teams combine for an average of 159.2) we have witnessed "reverse steam" in early wagering as the opening total of 153 has dropped a full point to 152. Something to keep an eye on as we draw closer towards tip-off on Monday night.

Does North Carolina Really Have Defensive Issues?

As I continue to stress, players play these games in March and not algorithms. Many models will indicate that North Carolina is a defensive liability due to their overall scoring defense (72.6 ppg) which ranks 279th in the country.

However, is that really the case? Let's take a closer look at North Carolina's defense in one important area in the NCAA Tournament.

There is no doubt that the Tar Heels will face their toughest foe from three-point range in Kansas who have hit 37-of-91 (40.7%) attempts from deep in the tournament. However, North Carolina has actually clamped down on the defensive end on the perimeter holding opponents to just 31/123 (25.2%) from the outside. In fact against three of the best teams in the country: Duke, UCLA and Baylor, the Tar Heels held the immensely talented squads to only 19-of 73 (26%) from beyond the arc.

So once again, numbers can be misleading and players are the ones who play these games in March, not projection models.

Final Breakdown and Prediction

From a betting perspective, North Carolina is not only 5-0 ATS in the NCAA Tournament, but also 5-0 ATS in their last five games when placed in the role of underdogs this season.

In fact, North Carolina has cashed on the moneyline as underdogs in the tournament three times at odds of +195 against Baylor, +125 versus UCLA and +180 over Duke.

If early public money is any indication, Kansas, which is currently receiving 69% of public money, will only become larger favorites by the time tip-off arrives on Monday night.

Sharp bettors have backed North Carolina in four of their five games in the tournament and they are not jumping off the bandwagon in the biggest game of the year. Like many games in this year’s tournament, this matchup should come down to the final minutes and more than a full possession of points offers extreme value. Wait and grab the best number you can.

BET: NORTH CAROLINA +4.5

  • UNC is 5-0 ATS in the NCAA tournament
  • UNC is 5-0 ATS in last five games as underdogs
  • Kansas is 3-2 ATS in the NCAA tournament
  • No. 8 seeds are 1-2 SU in the history of the NCAA Title (lone SU win came in 1985, Villanova)
  • UNC has beaten the spread by an average of +14.0-points in the tournament
  • Bill Self if 3-0 SU & ATS against North Carolina in the NCAA tournament

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Frankie Taddeo is a successful high-stakes fantasy football player who created the first-ever DFS program ever offered in a Las Vegas sportsbook. Frankie is SI Betting's Senior Analyst and provides his significant experience and resources in the sports betting scene. You can follow Frankie on Twitter @Frankie_Fantasy for his latest betting and fantasy insights from Las Vegas.