No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs -- Open: +2; Move: +1.5; Move: +2; Move: +1.5; Move +1
North Carolina has won the NCAA championship five times and finished as the runner-up five times. Perhaps none of those bridesmaid finishes was more difficult to swallow than just 12 months ago, when the Tar Heels squared off against Villanova for the big trophy. Carolina hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 74 with 4.7 seconds left, only to watch the Wildcats return the favor with a 3-pointer at the buzzer as the Heels lost 77-74 getting 2 points.
Roy Williams’ squad put together another strong season this year, including five more NCAA Tournament wins, to get another crack at the crown. In Saturday’s Final Four, North Carolina (32-7 SU, 19-16-3 ATS) edged No.3 seed Oregon 77-76 as a 4-point favorite.
Gonzaga has been an NCAA Tournament darling and regular attendee the past two decades, but the mid-major just couldn’t crack the Final Four, or better still reach the final. That changed this year, with the Bulldogs (37-1 SU, 23-10-2 ATS) finally getting the requisite five Big Dance wins. The Zags sealed their spot with Saturday’s 77-73 victory over upstart and No. 7 seed South Carolina as a 6.5-point chalk in the Final Four.
The Mirage and its sister MGM Resorts sportsbooks in Las Vegas opened Carolina -2 on Saturday night and quickly dropped to 1.5. There was about a five-minute window Sunday afternoon in which the line went back up to 2 before settling back in at 1.5. But both teams are drawing a good share of early support.
“This being sort of more of the premium matchup, obviously two No. 1 seeds facing each other, by the early action, we’re gonna write a ton of money to this,” Rood said.
After opening Carolina at -2, Bookmaker.eu had a little more downward movement, with Gonzaga money taking the line down to -1 by Sunday morning, where it remains today.
“We've seen respected players coming in and hitting the number,” Cooley said of action for the 9:20 p.m. ET tipoff at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. “That's not to say we won't have action on the other side at some point, but right now, we are somewhat heavy on the Zags.”
The Mirage opened the total at 153.5 and bumped it up a point to 154.5 before settling in at 154 on Sunday. Bookmaker.eu opened at 153, went to 153.5 in a matter of minutes and has been dealing 154.5 since early this morning.
Rood wouldn’t be surprised if the total sees some more movement at his shops.
“This total’s gonna run over, I think, a little bit, so we’re gonna try to stay ahead of that curve,” Rood said.
MGM books will come out a winner in the national title futures book regardless of which team wins tonight, but Rood and his staff certainly have a preferred winner.
“We’re gonna be rooting for Gonzaga a little bit,” Rood said. “We look much better to them, in fact twice as much better to them.”
Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas.