Syracuse vs. North Carolina: Final Four betting preview


No. 10 Syracuse Orange vs. No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels (-9, 144.5)

Game to be played at NRG Stadium, Houston, TX

North Carolina makes its record 19th trip to the Final Four and must beat ACC rival Syracuse for the third time this season Saturday in Houston to reach its 10th title game. The Tar Heels are the only top seed remaining in the NCAA Tournament field and upstart Syracuse navigated its way to a sixth Final Four from the 10th seed.

Seniors Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige lead a North Carolina team that is averaging 89.3 points while winning by an average of 16 in the Big Dance, and has won nine in a row. Paige told reporters: “I think we always thought we were going to be the favorite because in our minds when we’re playing our best basketball, we feel we can’t be beat. So, that’s the mentality I’m sure all four teams have going in.” The Orange had lost five of six games coming into the NCAA Tournament, but have played their best basketball at the right time to move within a victory of meeting Oklahoma or Villanova in the final. “I think we learned lot about each other throughout the whole entire year, and all those things are paying off now,” Syracuse senior guard Trevor Cooney told reporters. “We’re sticking together, believing in each other, and good things happen when you do that.”

TV: 8:49 p.m. ET, TBS


Syracuse – Open 100-1, Current 10/1
North Carolina – Open 8-1, Current 10/11

LINE HISTORY: North Carolina opened as nine-point faves for their Final Four showdown with Syracuse and have remained at that number. However, the Tar Heels have creeped up to -9.5 at some books. The total opened at 147 and has seen mostly under money since then, moving down to as low as 144.5. It has come back up to 145, where it currently sits. Check out the complete line history here.

WHAT SHARPS SAY: “The current betting odds give North Carolina an 83 percent chance of winning this game straight-up. The bigger question for most bettors is if Syracuse can stay within the large pointspread. The key will be if the Orangemen can slow down the pace of play and force UNC into a half-court game. Syracuse was unable to do this in the first regular season meeting on January 9th, losing by 11 points at home with the game going Over the total (157 points), however the Orangemen played better in the rematch on February 29th at Chapel Hill, losing by only 5 points with the game landing right near on the total (145 points).” – Covers Expert Steve Merril.

WHAT BOOKS SAY: “We have seen good two way action on our -9.5 point spread on North Carolina with with just over 55 percent of the action on the Tar Heels to cover. The 145 point total is also seeing solid two action with over 55 percent of the action on the Under.” – Michael Stewart of CarbonGaming.


ABOUT SYRACUSE (23-13, 20-15 ATS, 18-17 O/U): The Orange won their lone NCAA title in 2003 and boast a mix of veteran leadership with talented young players to go along with a Hall of Fame coach in Jim Boeheim. Senior Michael Gbinije tops the team in scoring (17.6) and boasts 91 3-pointers while recording double figures in points 37 straight contests and at least 20 in four of the past six games. Freshman Malachi Richardson raised his level of play in the NCAAs, including a season high-matching 23 points in the 68-62 Elite Eight victory over Virginia, and fellow freshman Tyler Lydon (10.2 points overall) is also a threat.

ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (32-6, 19-18-1 ATS, 20-18 O/U): Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams’ Tar Heels began their winning streak with a 75-70 triumph against Syracuse on Feb. 29 and Johnson (17.1 points, 10.5 rebounds overall) has been a consistent force. The 6-10 All-American forward is averaging 21 points, 9.8 boards and shooting 63 percent from the field in the first four rounds while Paige drained 13-of-27 from 3-point range in the same span. Guard Joel Berry II has committed only four turnovers in the last six games while swingman Justin Jackson, a Texas native, is 6-for-13 from behind the arc in the NCAAs.



* Syracuse is 6-0 ATS in its last six games versus a team with a winning percentage above .600.
* North Carolina is 5-0 ATS in its last five games versus Atlantic Coast conference opponents.
* Under is 4-1 in Syracuse’s last five NCAA Tournament games.
* Over is 5-1 in North Carolina’s last six NCAA Tournament games.

COVERS CONSENSUS: Bettors are giving the slight edge to Syracuse in this Final Four showdown, with 53 percent of wagers backing the Orange. As for the total, 59 percent of wagers are on the over.

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