Breaking Down the Men’s Division I Title Game
The only No. 1 seed to reach the Final Four is the favorite in the North Carolina vs Kansas prediction to be cutting down the nets at the Superdome in Monday night’s NCAA men’s basketball championship game.
The Kansas Jayhawks rate the edge in the NCAA betting odds over No. 8 seed North Carolina in a matchup of two storied programs.
With the chaos taking place on a nightly basis during the college basketball season, it was only natural to wonder if this was going to be the season when a Cinderella team danced all the way to the national championship.
Saint Peter’s certainly did its part in blowing up the March Madness brackets but, in the end, it is a title game between a pair of blue-blood programs. Kansas is going for its fourth NCAA title and North Carolina is chasing NCAA title No. 7. It would be Bill Self’s second title as the coach at Kansas while this is the first season at the helm for North Carolina coach Hubert Davis.
North Carolina has seemed pretty comfortable in the role of the underdog during March Madness.
The game is set for Monday night at 9:20 p.m. at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.
Keep on reading for more on this showdown, including information to help make North Carolina vs. Kansas betting predictions.
North Carolina vs Kansas Game Information
Team records: North Carolina 29-9; Kansas 33-6
Coaches: North Carolina – Hubert Davis, 1st season; Kansas – Bill Self 29nd season (19th at Kansas)
Seeds: North Carolina No. 8 seed in East Region; Kansas No. 1 seed in Midwest Region
NCAA bid: North Carolina received an at-large bid; Kansas received an automatic bid by winning the Big 12 Conference tournament.
NCAA men’s finals appearances: North Carolina won the championship in 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005, 2009 and 2017, and lost in the title game in 1946, 1968, 1977, 1981 and 2016. Kansas won the championship in 1952, 1988 and 2008, and lost in the title game in 1940, 1953, 1957, 1991, 2003 and 2012.
When UNC is on Offense
It can be hard to predict what the North Carolina backcourt is going to do. When Caleb Love and R.J. Davis are both aggressive and making shots, this is a much different team. They aren’t always on fire at the same time, but they combined for 46 points in the win over rival Duke in the national semifinals. It didn’t hurt that Leaky Black connected on his first two 3-pointers in the NCAA Tournament against Duke.
There’s no mystery to what the frontcourt duo of Armando Bacot and Brady Manek are going to do. If there is a ball coming off the rim, there’s a pretty chance it is going to land in the hands of Bacot, who has 84 rebounds in five games in the NCAA Tournament including 43 over the last two games. Manek also hits the boards, averaging 7.2 rebounds in the NCAAs. He can score from the inside or from the outside and is tied for the team lead with 18 3-pointers in five tourney games.
The Kansas coaching staff is pretty familiar with Manek, who played against the Jayhawks eight times in his four seasons at Oklahoma. It remains to be seen if that will impact the North Carolina vs. Kansas predictions.
When Kansas is on Offense
Kansas is hoping that the duo of David McCormack and Ochai Agbaji deliver as they did in the semifinal win against Villanova. McCormack averaged eight points and five rebounds in the first three games of the NCAA Tournament, but boosted those numbers to 20 points and 6.5 rebounds in wins against Miami and Villanova. He is coming off a season-high 25 points, although that took place against the undersized Villanova frontcourt. North Carolina should be able to match up better with McCormack than the Wildcats did.
Agbaji bore little resemblance to the player who was the unanimous Big 12 Player of the Year and a first-team All-American in the early portion of the NCAA Tournament, but he couldn’t miss in the early stages of the semifinal victory. He is 8 of 9 from 3-point range in the last two games and is averaging 19.5 points in those two contests.
It seems unlikely that Kansas will shoot 54 percent from the field for the second straight game, but all five starters as well as reserve guard Remy Martin have the ability to get on a roll. The ability of Kansas to bring Martin off the bench is just one reason why the North Carolina vs. Kansas predictions favor the Jayhawks.
Three Keys to North Carolina vs Kansas Matchup
1. Tar Heels to dial long distance: North Carolina has shot just 24 percent in its last seven losses but has won 12 of its last 13 games when making at least 10 3-pointers.
2. Flexing their muscles: It remains to be seen how much they go against each other during the game, but with the way the semifinals played out, the potential showdown in the post between North Carolina’s Armando Bacot and David McCormack of Kansas could be something to watch. The hope is that their respective coaches decide when is the best time for them to come to the bench rather than the decision being made based on foul trouble in the UNC vs. Kansas matchup.
3. Transfers stepping up: Both of these teams have players with at least a couple years playing together, but both teams have benefited from the rule allowing for an additional year of eligibility due to the global pandemic. Manek decided to use his fifth season at North Carolina after four years at Oklahoma, while Martin has made a huge impact, especially in the postseason, for Kansas after transferring in from Arizona State. Look for the two of them to have a say in which of these teams will be cutting down the nets.
Six of the 11 meetings between the teams have come in the NCAA Tournament, including the last three that have all been won by Kansas. The Jayhawks eliminated the Tar Heels from the 2008, 2012 and 2013 NCAA Tournaments, with all three games being decided by double digits.
Kansas won 84-66 in the 2008 national semifinals as a three-point underdog and went under the 158-point total. There were matchups in back-to-back March Madness brackets. In 2012, Kansas won 80-67 in the Midwest Regional final as a two-point favorite. The most recent matchup came in the second round of the 2013 tournament, with Kansas emerging with the 70-58 win as a 6½-point favorite in the Round of 32. It was the third time in the last four meetings that went under the total.
The rivalry started in the 1957 national title game when North Carolina defeated the Wilt Chamberlain-led Kansas team to win its first championship.
North Carolina won six of its first eight matchups, including going 2-1 in the NCAA Tournament.
Betting Numbers to Know
North Carolina is 5-0 overall and against the college basketball spreads in the last five games when listed as the underdog, including three of its five NCAA tournament games.
Kansas has been favored in each of the games during its current 10-game winning streak.
North Carolina has covered in its last five games while Kansas is 7-2 against the spread in its last nine games.
The total has gone over in 12 of the last 18 North Carolina games and in seven of the last eight contests against Big 12 teams.