North Carolina Tar Heels vs Kansas Jayhawks Pick – NCAA Men’s Championship Game April 4, 2022

The season started with 358 teams vying for the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship and now we are down to just 2, as the North Carolina Tar Heels will play the Kansas Jayhawks on Monday night for the rights to be called national champions. Saturday night’s Final Four round will forever be remembered as Coach K’s final game at Duke, as the coaching legend will ride off into the sunset after 42 years at the helm of the Blue Devils. And while Coach K’s retirement got most of the headlines last night, that doesn’t do justice to the action we saw on the floor, as there was some high-level basketball on display.

The Kansas Jayhawks easily dispatched the short-handed Villanova Wildcats, ending Villanova’s season with an 81-65 victory. Kansas jumped out to a 10-0 lead to start the game and never trailed, shooting a blistering hot 54% from beyond the arc, nailing 13 3-pointers on the night. David McCormack and Ochai Agbaji were both unstoppable, as they combined for 46 points on 16-20 shooting from the field in the win for the Jayhawks.

You have to tip your cap to the Wildcats though, as they were forced to play this game without one of their best players, as Justin Moore tore his Achilles late in Villanova’s Elite Eight game against Houston, and they didn’t back down for a minute despite being shorthanded. At the end of the day, the Wildcats just didn’t have the depth to hang with the Jayhawks without Moore on the floor, and it has to be a frustrating end to the season for Jay Wright and company at Villanova.

The late game last night was the headliner, as we got to see the 100th matchup between Duke and North Carolina in the Coach K era, with it being the first time these rivals had ever met up in the Big Dance. The stakes couldn’t have been higher, and if this were a movie, we would all be complaining that the script wasn’t believable, as this was a true dream matchup! The game lived up to all of the hype though, as it was an up and down back and forth game all night long, that was tied with just a minute left on the clock.

The Tar Heels got a huge 3 from Caleb Love to take the lead, and the normally solid free throw shooting Blue Devils struggled down the stretch, missing several key shots from the charity stripe that proved to be the difference. It wasn’t the storybook ending to Coach K’s career that the Duke faithful were hoping for, but it was for Carolina, as they now hold the distinction of handing the Hall of Fame head coach his last home-court loss, as well as his last NCAA tournament loss.

Those 100 games between Duke and North Carolina during the Coach K era? They ended with a 50-50 record, cementing that rivalry as one of the greatest of all time.

Now that we have set the stage, we are going to jump right into our pick for the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship game between the Kansas Jayhawks and the North Carolina Tar Heels! The line opened up with Kansas as -4-point favorites and so far, the action has come in fairly evenly, as the line has yet to move. We won’t see the majority of the money come in until the hours just before tipoff, so there is still a chance that this line shifts, but for now, I am comfortable locking in some action, and playing wait and see to see if more value emerges down the road.

North Carolina Tar Heels (29-9)

If you have been riding with me here at TheSportsGeek during March Madness, you will know how I feel about the North Carolina Tar Heels right now. I have been riding the Heels hard since the end of the regular season, as this team reminded me a lot of the Kemba Walker led UCONN team from 2011, that caught fire late in the season and went on to rampage through the NCAA tournament enroot to a national title. This team always had elite talent and now that things have started to click, they have been nearly impossible to beat.

For me, this run really started back on February 5th, when North Carolina got run off of their own floor by the Duke Blue Devils. After that loss, North Carolina wasn’t even feeling great about their chances of making the NCAA tournament, let alone winning games when they got there, as they had very few signature wins on their resume, and the losses were starting to pile up. In their next game, the Tar Heels gutted out a tough road win at Clemson and then followed that up with a home win over Florida State and things have looked better and better ever since.

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing though, as they did pick up a hard to understand loss to Pittsburgh at home, and they lost to Virginia Tech in the ACC tournament, but this team clearly turned a corner after that loss to Duke, which served as a major wake up call for Hubert Davis’ Tar Heels.

This run to the NCAA title game has featured wins over Marquette, Baylor, UCLA, St. Peter’s, and Duke, and if I had to point to one player that has been the difference-maker for North Carolina, it would be superstar big man Armando Bacot. Bacot was a double-double machine during the regular season as he finished with the 2nd most double-doubles in ACC history, trailing only Tim Duncan in his time at Wake Forrest. In this tournament, Bacot has been a one-man wrecking crew averaging 15 points, 17 rebounds, and nearly 2 blocks per game.

Bacot went for more than 20 rebounds in each of his last 2 games, as he has dominated the glass, but he sprained his ankle late in the game against Duke and had to briefly leave the game. Carolina fans had to be panicking when they saw Bacot limping to the locker room, but in true Willis Reed fashion, Bacot came running out of the tunnel in less than a minute and immediately checked back into the game. Davis claims that Bacot is ready to go, and he actually practiced today, and his ability to be on the court at full strength is a major factor for North Carolina.

Kansas Jayhawks (33-6)

It seems like every season we hear about all of the teams in the Big 12 besides Kansas. A couple of years back it was West Virginia that was the new hot team from the Big 12. Then it was Baylor, Texas, and Texas Tech taking their turns as the new IT team from the conference. And just about every year the season ends the same way, with the Kansas Jayhawks winning at least a share of the Big 12 title. I guess it is excellence fatigue for Kansas that has somehow caused them to be underrated despite basically always being ranked in the top-10 nationally?

Whatever the case may be, the Jayhawks were a bit of an afterthought this season. Even when the Jayhawks won both the Big 12 regular season and conference tournament titles, and hit March Madness as a 1-seed, there still weren’t many people out there rooting for the rock chalk Jayhawks. I guess I will just never understand the hate for Kansas, as this team is the real deal, and they have everything you could ever want out of a national championship squad.

Ochai Agbaji might have been the best player in the nation this season, as he led the Jayhawks in scoring at 19 points per game and I am not sure that I can remember a time when Kansas needed a big bucket and it wasn’t Ochai Agbaji that took, and made, the shot. He lit it up against Villanova, connecting on 6 of his 7 3-point attempts and scoring 21 points in the Jayhawk’s blowout victory. Every time that the Wildcats would start to put a run together it was Agbaji that would nail a 3 to stretch the lead back out and stop the run.

Even with as great as Kansas has been all year, you have to acknowledge the fact that they ended up with a relatively soft path to the finals. Unlike the Tar Heels, who had to beat 2 of last year’s Final Four teams in Baylor and UCLA, and then 1-seed Duke, to make it to the final game of the season, the Jayhawks have clearly caught some breaks. Kansas started this tournament with a win over Texas Southern, and just like every other 1-seed, that was an easy win. In the round of 32, Kansas drew Creighton, who was forced to play without 2 of their starters, and 3 of their top rotation players.

I personally felt that the Providence Friars were better than the analytics were given them credit for, but if you are a disciple of Kenpom, he rated out PC as a bubble team, not a Final Four threat, giving Kansas another favorable matchup. The breaks kept coming for the Jayhawks, as they matched up with 10-seed Miami in the Elite Eight, a team that was one of the last teams to get into the field of 68 this year and were ranked 57th on Kenpom on Selection Sunday.

Even the game against Villanova was easier than it should have been, as the Wildcats didn’t have Justin Moore on the floor, and with half of ‘Nova’s superstar guard tandem missing, they were able to double Collin Gillespie, deny him the ball, and that left the Wildcats without a consistent scoring option. I am never going to say that a team got lucky to make it all of the way to the national finals, but it’s obvious that KU has had a gentle path to playing for it all on Monday night.

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North Carolina Tar Heels vs Kansas Jayhawks Betting Odds And Team Statistics

The following odds are courtesy of BetOnline:

Teams Spread Moneyline Total
North Carolina Tar Heels +4 (-110) +155 Over 152 (-110)
Kansas Jayhawks -4 (-110) -180 Under 152 (-110)
Team Data North Carolina Tar Heels Kansas Jayhawks
Overall Record 29-9 33-6
ATS Record 21-16-1 20-19
Away/Home Record NEUTRAL NEUTRAL
ATS Away/Home NEUTRAL NEUTRAL
Points Per Game 78.1 78.4
Points Against Per Game 71.2 67.2
Field Goal % 45.1% 47.9%
Three Point % 36.1% 36.1%

North Carolina Tar Heels vs Kansas Jayhawks Prediction:

So, who wins the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship? I like North Carolina. Winning in March is all about momentum, and right now the Tar Heels have it, as they have played at a very high level in the last month. A lot of people that never watched North Carolina play a game this season tried to convince themselves that this run was hard to see coming, but that just isn’t the case, as this team has studs in Armando Bacot, Caleb Love, and Brady Manek, and once they got things going, they have played at the level of a top-seeded team.

They say it is how you finish, not how you start, that matters, and as North Carolina is sitting on the cusp of taking yet another national title banner home with them to Chapel Hill, there isn’t a team that is playing better basketball than the Heels. The only concern that I have with a play on North Carolina is the health of Armando Bacot. We have seen Kansas catch several big breaks in this tournament already and if they catch another one, and Bacot isn’t able to play, or is limited, they will catch their biggest break yet.

North Carolina Tar Heels vs Kansas Jayhawks Betting Trends:

North Carolina Tar Heels
  • North Carolina is 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games
  • The total has gone OVER in 12 of North Carolina’s last 18 games
  • North Carolina is 5-0 SU in their last 5 games
  • North Carolina is 11-1 SU in their last 12 games this season
  • North Carolina is 4-1 SU in their last 5 games played in April
Kansas Jayhawks
  • Kansas is 7-2 ATS in their last 9 games
  • Kansas is 10-0 SU in their last 10 games
  • Kansas is 5-0 SU in their last 5 games this season
  • Kansas is 4-2 ATS in their last 6 games played in April
  • Kansas is 7-2 ATS in their last 9 games when playing as the favorite

I am sure that if Bacot was hurt, that we wouldn’t be hearing a lot about it, as Hubert Davis isn’t about to make Bill Self’s life any easier. So, we are surely going to have to wait until game time to see if he takes the floor, but after watching him refuse treatment and immediately go back on the court after spraining his ankle, I think that this kid plays. And if he plays, North Carolina wins this game.

The uncertainty surrounding the health of Bacot has forced me to slightly switch my betting strategy for this game. Originally, I was all-in on a North Carolina money line underdog play, but with his ankle scaring me a little bit, I will back off of that, and instead take the +4-points. If you have watched as many North Carolina games as I have this year, you too would be shocked that we can somehow back this team with more than a full possession’s worth of points.

If Bacot is indeed his normal self and Brady Manek and Caleb Love do what they are capable of doing, North Carolina is going to again shock the world, and win this game. No disrespect intended for Kansas, as they are a very good team as well, and Ochai Agbaji is going to be tough to contain, but I just can’t resist being able to snatch up all of these points in a game that is certain to be tightly contested.

I see this game as being higher scoring and it wouldn’t at all be surprising to see this game play out in the 80s. We all watched KU drain a bunch of 3’s against Villanova, but that isn’t their normal style, as they are 285th in the nation in 3-point attempts per shot attempt. Unless the Jayhawks again decide to abandon the style of ball that got them this far, and jack up, and make, a ton of 3’s, I don’t think that they are going to be able to hang with North Carolina in a shootout.

I’ll call this one at an 81-76 final score with North Carolina winning the game outright and getting us paid! My heart really wants to make a money line play on the Heels as well, but I am going to wait that out until just before tip, to make sure that Bacot is on the floor and looking healthy. If he does look good, you can be sure I am firing hard on the Heels to upset Kansas. If not, then I am going to cling to those +4-points and hope that Manek and Love can pick up the slack.

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North Carolina Tar Heels vs Kansas Jayhawks Pick
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Jason Gray / Author

Jason is a true Las Vegas insider as he has called the sports betting capital of the world his home for sixteen years. Jason started out his career in gaming by running the biggest poker tournaments in the world and managing some of the biggest sportsbooks on the strip. Jason has transitioned out of casino operations and has been covering sports betting for the sports geek for just over two years. His main focus is on baseball, college basketball, and the NFL

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