North Carolina vs Kansas prediction: NCAA Tournament National Championship pick and college basketball game preview.
North Carolina vs Kansas Game Preview, How To Watch
Date: Monday, April 4
Game Time: 9:20 pm
Venue: Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, LA
How To Watch: TBS
Records: Kansas (1 seed, 33-6)
North Carolina (8 seed, 29-9)
Why North Carolina Will Win
This team can really, really rebound.
It was already the best rebounding team in the nation, and then it managed to pull down 50 in the thrilling 81-77 win over Duke.
It wasn’t just Armando Bacot’s 21 boards – this team was coming up with big stops and offense rebounds throughout the win.
How do you beat Kansas? You win on the glass.
It helps if you can come up with enough defensive stops to generate rebounds, but Kansas is 22-0 when teams get 30 rebounds or fewer, 1-3 when allowing 37 or more, and …
North Carolina averages 41 rebounds per game and only came up with fewer than 30 six times. It’s 20-2 when coming up with 37 or more.
But as the Tar Heels have shown throughout the tournament, the success is more than just owning the rebounding margin.
North Carolina has been on a three point bender.
The offense has generated ten or more three point baskets 14 times this year – it’s been 12-2 when it gets there and 8-1 when it comes up with 11 or more. Before the NCAA Tournament, the Tar Heels only had two back-to-back games of double-digit threes, and the first time was way back in November.
Over this fun little tournament, thing, North Carolina has hit ten or more threes in four of the five games, and it only didn’t get to double-digits against St. Peter’s because it didn’t really have to.
Why Kansas Will Win
Villanova is a three point shooting machine, and while it was able to get back in the game against the Jayhawks for a few minutes by hitting from the outside – finishing with 13 made three-pointers – it got bombed by 16.
Kansas made 13, too, and it needed just 24 shots to do it.
Kansas isn’t a fun story like Duke was and North Carolina turned into, and it’s been sort of blown off that this was the lone one seed in the Final Four, but the team has picked a wonderful time to play its best basketball of the season.
The offense did a great job of moving the ball around and getting it inside from the start in the 81-65 win over the Wildcats, but it’s been the defense that’s getting it done over the last few weeks.
Creighton gave the Jayhawks problems from the outside, but that was an aberration – and it had to fire away from deep thanks to a key injury taking away part of the inside game.
Outside of the 12 threes given to the Bluejays, Kansas has allowed double-digit threes just once – a blowout win over West Virginia – since January and just seven times all year.
The Jayhawks can defend from the outside, and they have the size and toughness on the inside to at least hold up on the boards and at least stay even with the active Tar Heels.
You want to make this a half-court fight? Kansas has no problem relying on its defense to hold up. You want to speed things up and make this a frantic shootout? This offense can score on the move in bunches.
And it’s not buckling.
For the first time all tournament, the Duke youth showed a bit in the clutch – the team blinked just as North Carolina made the big plays possible to get ahead for good, especially on the line.
Kansas is loaded with veteran upperclassmen who haven’t blinked so far. There’s been zero panic out of this team.
North Carolina vs Kansas: What’s Going To Happen
You don’t get to the national title without doing something amazing – there’s no way to fluke your way into Monday night – but Kansas caught a whole slew of breaks along the way.
Creighton and Villanova were both missing their best rebounding/inside presences, Providence played above its head a bit all year, and Miami was a 10-seed that didn’t have the shooting ability to get over the top of the Jayhawk D.
Again, if it was so easy everyone would do it – and North Carolina got the Saint Peter’s when reality set in – but this is one hardened team after taking out Baylor, UCLA, and Duke.
But was beating the arch-rival to send Mike Krzyzewski off to retirement the high point? Can the Tar Heels really maintain this high level against a team playing as well as Kansas is?
Yeah, but it’ll take a little while to get there.
This won’t be the sharpest game out of the box, but eventually these two will settle in and it’ll become a back-and-forth fight with plenty of momentum swings.
It won’t be as amazing as the second half of Duke-North Carolina was – there won’t be that type of quality – but it’ll be entertaining.
It’ll get down to fouls as both teams overcome rough patches in the outside shooting to keep hammering inside.
It’ll be the first time in a long, long time that Kansas has dealt with a physical style like this – three games against TCU were close – against a team that figured it all out.
North Carolina vs Kansas Prediction, National Championship
Prediction: North Carolina 77, Kansas 74
Line: Kansas -4.5, o/u: 153
ATS Confidence out of 5: 2
North Carolina vs Kansas Must See Rating: 5
5: Bruce Willis
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