March Madness Betting Guide: National Championship (North Carolina vs. Kansas)
The NCAA tournament comes to its conclusion tonight, with the national championship tipping off at 9:20 pm ET.
Filling out a bracket is the main attraction for most sports fans this time of year, but the fun doesn't have to stop there. It's also the perfect opportunity to place some bets at NCAAB odds.
Which bets should draw our attention? Let's find out.
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North Carolina Tar Heels (8) vs. Kansas Jayhawks (1)
In the semifinals, Kansas took care of business against a short-handed Villanova squad, and as one would expect from a 1 seed, they enter tonight's championship bout rated as the third-best team in the country, according to both KenPom and BartTorvik.
Meanwhile, the much-hyped UNC-Duke matchup remarkably lived up to expectations and then some. But it was the Tar Heels who ultimately had the last laugh and sent Coach K home just short of a one last national championship appearance.
Unsurprisingly, the higher-seeded Jayhawks come in as the favorites, with FanDuel Sportsbook settling on a 4.0-point spread.
But the Tar Heels shouldn't be written off tonight.
While North Carolina predictably doesn't rate as a top-5 team like the Jayhawks do, they still come in as the nation's 16th-best, per KenPom and BartTorvik.
Additionally, UNC has really upped its play to make it to this point, perhaps putting them on the same level as the Jayhawks. Over the last 10 games, Kansas and North Carolina have performed like the two best teams nationally, per BartTorvik, and both boast top-10 marks in adjusted offense and defense over that span.
On the other hand, the Jayhawks have enjoyed a fairly unchallenging road to the final, and UNC could very well be their toughest test yet.
Not only did Kansas enter with arguably the easiest path to the Final Four to begin with, but they didn't have to face either Auburn or Iowa, the highest-rated teams in their region, per our numbers. And while Villanova was a difficult Final Four opponent, the Wildcats were missing their second-leading scorer to injury (Justin Moore).
In all, there are enough positive trends favoring UNC to expect this to be a tightly contested matchup, and I like taking UNC and the points. And given the modest spread, if you're feeling feisty, you might even consider the Tar Heels moneyline (+158).
Alternatively, with both offenses playing at a high level, betting over 151.5 points is another option.
Excluding their overtime points versus Baylor, the Tar Heels have averaged 79.6 points per game in the tournament while the Jayhawks have averaged a healthy 77.0 points.
And even if we look at the season as a whole, both teams are top-20 in adjusted offense, which includes being roughly top-50 teams in three-point percentage. They're both top-75 in adjusted tempo, as well, which can only help drive up the score tonight.