March Madness comes to an end when the No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels clash with the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks in the NCAA Tournament’s National Championship Game on Monday.
Two of college hoops' most storied programs collide for the first time in nine years, with both teams rich in pro-ready talent and coming off impressive wins in the Final Four. But was the Tar Heels’ victory over Duke too big? It hasn’t impressed the oddsmakers all that much, installing the Jayhawks as 4-point favorites for this bracket finale.
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North Carolina vs Kansas odds
This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.
Lookahead lines before Saturday’s Final Four games had this particular matchup priced with Kansas as a 3.5-point favorite. But following KU’s win over Villanova and UNC’s thrilling victory over Duke, March Madness odds opened Kansas -4 and climbed as high as -5 at some books before settling into the KU -4/-4.5 range.
The total for the National Title game opened between 153 and 154 and after early adjustments have come down through 153.5 and to as low as 152 points.
North Carolina vs Kansas predictions
Predictions made on 4/3/2022 at 3:00 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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North Carolina vs Kansas game info
• Location: Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, LA
• Date: Monday, April 4, 2022
• Tip-off: 9:00 p.m. ET
• TV: TBS
North Carolina vs Kansas betting preview
Kansas: No injuries to report.
North Carolina: Armando Bacot C (Probable).
Find our latest NCAA basketball injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Jayhawks are 7-2 against the spread in their last nine games as favorites and went 7-3 ATS (8-2 SU) when pegged as favorites of -5 or less this season. Find more NCAA betting trends for North Carolina vs. Kansas.
North Carolina vs Kansas picks and predictions
Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.
What, there’s one more game to be played?! You mean UNC-Duke wasn’t for all the marbles? With the way that all-ACC Final Four matchup was hyped, it’s tough to remember that the Tar Heels still have one more game to play.
That 81-77 win over rival Duke – which put a bow on Mike Krzyzewski’s career – sets up perhaps the biggest letdown spot in the history of college hoops and it comes at the worst possible time.
On top of that, the win over the Blue Devils was not without its casualties, as UNC big man Armando Bacot suffered a nasty twisted ankle late in the second half and battled through to finish the game.
While Bacot is expected to play Monday, how much that ankle is injured is another question. Players can often fight through those moderate sprains during the game, but once the tape comes off, those injuries balloon up and feel much worse the following days.
Bacot’s mobility will be tested by an athletic KU frontcourt featuring active 6-foot-10 forward David McCormack, who dominated Villanova inside for 25 points and nine rebounds Saturday.
If Bacot is slowed, it could even the battle on the boards between these teams and take away one of UNC’s biggest weapons. North Carolina has been among the top rebounding teams in the land all year and snatched 17 offensive boards versus Duke.
The Heels are also the top offensive team Kansas has faced so far in the Big Dance, but this Jayhawks squad ran into plenty of potent scoring attacks during Big 12 play and still ranked out 17th in adjusted defensive efficiency.
Kansas put the clamps on high-scoring conference foes like Baylor, Texas, and Oklahoma and have held their last three NCAA foes to 65 point or less on 35.6% shooting.
North Carolina will want to push tempo and score in transition. It’s what it knows and is eventually what broke Duke in the Final Four matchup. But if UNC can’t do that – and can’t control the offensive glass – it doesn’t know how to win any other way. The Jayhawks, on the other hand, are adaptable.
Kansas is comfortable pushing pace and turning the game into a track meet but can also slow it down and generate looks in the halfcourt set. And if shots aren’t falling, KU has proven it can win ugly – like those NCAA wins over Providence and Creighton.
That versatility to adjust the game plan, along with a potential letdown from UNC and Bacot’s fragile ankle, are enough to push us to rock the chalk with Rock Chalk and take Kansas to cover in the National Championship.
Prediction: Kansas -4 (-115 at PointsBet)
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This total is promising a relatively high-scoring game, with the number peaking at 154 points before seeing buyback on the Under.
As mentioned, North Carolina is at its best when pushing the pace and if Bacot is slowed or limited due to that injury, the Heels will lean on a smaller lineup by plugging in 6-foot-8 sophomore Puff Johnson.
That would leave 6-foot-9 senior Brady Manek to wrangle Kansas’ bigs, and he was abused inside by Duke’s lengthy forwards Friday. The Blue Devils finished with 48 points in the paint and now UNC faces a KU attack scoring 45% of their output inside the key the past four games.
Both teams can take and make a lot of threes. North Carolina has been hot from outside during the Big Dance and knocked down 10 triples in the win over Duke.
The Jayhawks also have range, ranked 52nd in the country from beyond the arc, and finished 13 for 24 from deep in the victory over Villanova, including 6-of-7 from 3-point range from Ochai Agbaji.
North Carolina is spotty on defense. While ranked Top 40 in adjusted defensive efficiency at KenPom on the year, UNC isn’t great at protecting the perimeter and can get beat at its own game in transition, allowing an effective field goal rate of 56.1% to transition attacks. Kansas is Top 50 in transition frequency and boast a 57.1% EFG when pushing the pace.
Both teams are loaded with NBA-bound stars and each have options in isolation when the shot clock ticks down. The Jayhawks defense will be the difference, but it won’t stop this final from going Over the total.
Prediction: Over 152 (-110 at DraftKings)
As mentioned, lookahead lines had this matchup as low as KU -3.5 and early play pushed the spread as high as UNC +5 at select sportsbooks before a market consensus to Kansas -4.
There is a lot to like about North Carolina in this game, as the Heels can generate buckets from multiple players, and guys like Caleb Love and R.J. Davis are instant options when UNC needs a big score.
The Jayhawks have those shot takers as well and boast the best player on the floor in Agbaji, who is going to be a huge thorn in the side of the Tar Heels defense. Kansas also has better depth – especially if Bacot is limited – bringing sparkplugs Remy Martin and Mitch Lightfoot off the bench.
Those are two senior reserves who won’t shrink on the big stage in NOLA. If Bacot’s health is an issue or if UNC gets into foul trouble, Hubert Davis doesn’t have those pillars to pull from off the pine.
I’m not in love with either team at the current spread but I do think Kansas wins this contest. So we’re keeping it simple in the March Madness finale and grabbing the Jayhawks at the lowest outright odds available.
Pick: Kansas moneyline (-171 at PointsBet)