North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Kansas Jayhawks: National Championship Prediction & Game Preview - 4/4/2022

by Chuck Sommers

NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship

Time: 9:20 p.m. ET
Venue: Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, LA
Where to watch: TBS

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: Kansas -4
BetMGM: Kansas -4.5
Caesars: Kansas -4

Season record
No. 8 North Carolina: 29-9
No. 1 Kansas: 33-6

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North Carolina - Kansas preview and analysis


This has been a year in which brackets all across the country have been ripped to shreds. I’m willing to bet folks across the country were willing to take an actual flamethrower to their brackets to express their disdain for the absurdity this year’s March Madness. Unless you’re winning this year’s pool at your work, you have checked out a great deal from this year’s tournament.
 
So it’s only fitting that we’ve gotten to this point that one of the more unlikely National Championship games will be taking place on Monday in New Orleans when the Kansas Jayhawks take on the … *checks notes * … the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Superdome for all the marbles.
 
But when you sit back and look at this matchup, it’s only fitting that we’re here in this environment with these teams facing each other. Kansas was never seemed as one to dominate all year long, but have found their way to the big dance thanks to a favorable run through the tournament. That worked all the way well through Saturday when the Jayhawks defeated the Villanova Wildcats 81-65.
 
David McCormack finished with a dominant 25 points and nine rebounds while shooting 10 of 12 from the floor, and Ochai Agbaji had 21 points while making 6 of 7 3-pointers to pace Kansas to another dominant victory on this night.
 
“That’s everyone’s attitude — even after this game, even after last weekend, the weekend before that — everyone’s attitude was on to the next one,” Agbaji said, “and not looking too far ahead at what’s going on Monday.”
 
What Kansas has been able to accomplish, even if it’s just an easy road, has been remarkable in a tournament filled with uncertainty. Bill Self has his group, which again – if you look at how the Big 12 was stacked for the entire year – should not have been at this point, but have benefitted greatly to being on an easy side of the bracket. Only one win en route to the championship has found them on the cusp.
 
“You come to Kansas for big games,” said Christian Braun, who had 10 points against the Wildcats, “but you don’t come to Kansas to play in the Elite Eight. You don’t come to Kansas to play in the Final Four. You come to play for a championship.”
 
And they’re going to get that chance. Against, of all opponents, North Carolina. I don’t want to hear about it. Not a single one of you had North Carolina going this far, and of course, it had to be North Carolina. Actually, no. Not of course. There was no ‘of course’ to this. How on Earth did this rag-tag group of Tar Heels led by brand new coach Hubert Davis make this happen?
 
Yet somehow we are in the world where this group, of all teams and all programs, are the ones that ended Mike Krzyzewski’s career. The last vision of Coach K’s strong career ends in a Final Four to the most-hated program in Duke’s lore. And here’s Caleb Love drilling ridiculously long threes and ending the run of one of the greatest coaches in sports history. But we look at North Carolina and are just amazed at how they’ve been able to keep this going for the longest time.
 
Love scored 28 points and UNC is in the title game because of course they are. They defeated superpower Saint Peter’s, for crying out loud. What more do you need when you defeat the Peacocks in the Elite Eight and make things happen?
 
"I felt like over the last two or three years , North Carolina wasn't relevant," said Davis, whose biggest win came a year to the date Williams announced his own retirement. "North Carolina should never be irrelevant. It should be front and center with the spotlight on them."

Prediction


This is going to be an entertaining match that should have a lot of historical implications. Either Kansas will, as expected, win this game and go into the world of college basketball as champions again, or North Carolina will cap off one hell of a run. I think when it’s all said and done, even though this doesn’t have the narrative to put forth this way, I think Kansas gets it done. Would it shock me if North Carolina won? Not really, but it has to unfold this way. I don’t think there’s anything around it. Kansas by 6

Betting trends


North Carolina is 17-12 ATS as an underdog over the past three seasons.

North Carolina is 20-8 ATS this season after winning four or five of their last six games.

Kansas is 20-17 ATS as a favorite this season.

Kansas is 13-13 ATS against ACC opponents since 1997.

Projected starting lineup


North Carolina:
PG: R.J. Davis
SG: Caleb Love
SF: Leaky Black
PF: Brady Manek
C: Armando Bacot

Kansas:
PG: Dajuan Harris Jr.
SG: Ochai Agbaji
SF: Christian Braun
PF: Jalen Wilson
C: David McCormack

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Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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