We came down to the final game of the college basketball season and we have Kansas and North Carolina. Matchups like this are never amazing, but that’s how we got here.
Kansas had another great season and throughout this tournament it has confirmed its position among the country’s elite programs. Jayhawks is doing it in the old fashioned way, not leaning towards one-and-a-half freshmen but on the idea of developing players and improving the season. They beat Villanova on Saturday, demonstrating their talent, depth and ability to beat the team in a variety of styles. Kansas is a pretty complete team.
North Carolina is a big college hoops brand but its path this season has been a little more rocky than expected. There were moments under first-year coach Hubert Davis when it wasn’t clear if Ter Hills was among them (or would even make the tournament).
Even when they beat Duke to close out the regular season, some thought the team was a real championship contender (I know I didn’t). They followed it looking pretty good in the tournament, but again most thought they would be short against Duke in their epic clash on Saturday night. You couldn’t match the intensity or all the bonding and lead changes last night but I don’t think it was a very good game. North Carolina won because Guard Caleb Love and the big man Armando Beckett were the best players on the floor.
Kansas has won and covered the last three times these programs have played 7 The most recent of these was in 2013, so the only truly relevant aspect is that Bill Self was the Kansas coach for these three games.
North Carolina Ter Hills vs. Kansas Jehoks
Monday, April 4, 2022
9:20 PM ET
Caesar’s Superdome, New Orleans Louisiana
Spread: Tar Hills +4.5 (-110), Jahcox -4.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Tar Heels +165, Jayhawks -200
The best bet
As this is the last game of the season we hope we get a good game. At the very least we should get a fast paced game and this is a start.
Both of these teams want to play fast and it certainly feels like a game where the first team wins at 80 (and probably both get there).
Tar Hills forward Brady Manek (formerly Oklahoma) is familiar with Kansas and I am sure he is telling his teammates that the pace of this game is going to be faster than they used to be and this is saying something for Tar Hills. The game will be won by the team that will be able to catch its breath and find out what is working first.
I’m leaning towards Kansas because they have more places where they can turn for crime in this kind of game. Five Jayhawks players have scored more than 11 PPGs in the post season. They could look inside, where David McCormack has an athletic advantage over Bucket, or the perimeter where the high-profile forward played his best tournament game with 21 points against Villanova. They also have X-Factor Remy Martin, who was the tournament’s best player in their first three games.
There are more players in Kansas who could turn it into a series of offenses while North Carolina is going to be too dependent on love to find some continuity in its game. This is a small sample, but five tournament games have not been able to keep up the strong games. His scoring total was 23, 5, 30, 14 and 28 Unless he finds a way to post a back-to-back game with 20+ for the second time this season, it’s hard to see how North Carolina is going to stay in this game. I am very willing to let him down, not because he has no talent but because there is always inconsistency with it.
North Carolina isn’t going to be embarrassed by Kansas but if things don’t work out you definitely want a more experienced coach on the sidelines. Of course, Davis just beat the coaches but when you watched the game Tar Hills got some help from a hard flute and once the love warmed up, it made it easier for them to know where to go. It was not a game where Xs and O were different.
Bill Self is a good game coach for which he is credited. It would be a difference to have a comfortable win in Kansas. The Jayhawks are still building while the Tar Hills are in a bit of a mess, even though it’s a championship game.