Villanova vs. North Carolina: NCAA Championship betting preview

 

No. 2 Villanova Wildcats vs. No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels (-2.5, 149.5)

Game to be played at NRG Stadium, Houston, TX

Villanova is fresh off the biggest blowout in Final Four history and aims to carry the momentum into Monday’s national championship contest when it faces top-seeded North Carolina at Houston’s NRG Stadium. The second-seeded Wildcats rolled to a 95-51 victory over Oklahoma on Saturday and attempt to etch their names alongside the school’s famous 1985 title-winning squad that upset Georgetown in the NCAA championship game.

The Tar Heels have posted five straight double-digit victories in the tournament and are vying for the sixth national championship in school history. “We got to go out there and play our game,” senior forward Brice Johnson said after Saturday’s 83-66 victory over Syracuse. “Those guys are a very good team. They’re really hot right now. They held one of the best players in the country (Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield, nine points) to little or nothing.” Villanova’s stunning 44-point victory boosted its margin of victory in the tourney to 24.2 points and Wildcats coach Jay Wright understands the history in play. “Those guys are really icons on our campus, they really are,” Wright said of the 1985 team led by post players Ed Pinckney and Howard Pressley. “That whole team brings that magical underdog feeling, like anything’s possible.”

TV: 9:19 p.m. ET, TBS

LINE HISTORY: North Carolina opened as two-point favorites immediately following their impressive Final Four victory over Syracuse. The action came in on the Tar Heels hard overnight Saturday and by Sunday morning the books were forced to move the line to -2.5. The total opened at 151 and was bet down to 149.5 by Sunday. Check out the complete line history here.

WHAT BOOKS SAY: β€œIt really does feel like we’ve got the two best, most complete teams in the tournament facing off for the national title. This was somewhat of a difficult line to create because, save for one game, the wiseguys have been backing Villanova throughout the dance, while the Tar Heels have had heavy support from the squares. Public perception dictates North Carolina being the favorite.” – John Lester, senior lines manager for Bookmaker.eu

MATCHUP CHART:

ABOUT VILLANOVA (34-5, 20-17-1 ATS, 20-17-1 O/U): Junior guard Josh Hart was superb against Oklahoma by scoring 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting to fuel the Wildcats’ torrid 71.4 percent shooting mark. Hart averages a team-high 15.5 points while teaming with two other stellar outside shooters in junior forward Kris Jenkins (13.6 average, team-high 98 3-pointers) and senior guard Ryan Arcidiacono (12.4 average, 74 3-pointers). Villanova is thin in the frontcourt compared to the Tar Heels and could use a strong performance from senior center Daniel Ochefu, who averages 10.1 points and leads the squad in rebounding (7.6) and blocked shots (55).

ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (33-6, 20-18-1 ATS, 21-18 O/U): Johnson is the Tar Heels’ top player with averages of 17 points and 10.5 rebounds and three other players average more than 12 points per game. Senior point guard Marcus Paige (12.3) has excelled from long range during the tournament by going 16-of-34 from 3-point range and he holds the school mark of 295 career 3-pointers. Sophomore guard Joel Berry II averages 12.6 points and sophomore forward Justin Jackson averages 12.3 while junior center Kennedy Meeks (9.4 points, 5.9 rebounds) has played well of late by making 16-of-22 shots over the past three contests.

TWEET BEAT:

TRENDS:

* Wildcats are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 NCAA Tournament games.
* Wildcats are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 games after scoring more than 90 points in their previous game.
* Tar Heels are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 NCAA Tournament games.
* Over is 6-1 in Wildcats last 7 vs. Atlantic Coast.
* Over is 10-2 in Wildcats last 12 games following a straight up win.
* Over is 7-1 in Tar Heels last 8 non-conference games.

COVERS CONSENSUS: The action was heavy on UNC early on but the line move to 2.5 seems to have leveled out the percentages with the Tar Heals currently taking 53% of the public opinion. 71% of the picks on the total are coming in on over 149.5.

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