On Saturday, four teams took to the court in Houston to contest the Final Four and fought hard to earn the right to prolong their season and play for a National Championship. After watching both games, only two teams seemingly got the memo to show up.
While I must give credit to Syracuse for hanging around with North Carolina for a while, that outcome and eventual cover by UNC was never in question. It was what happened in the first game that had many people shocked and disappointed.
Whether you believe Villanova is a better team than Oklahoma or believe the Sooners simply had an off night, it was the lack of urgency that had me baffled by such a Senior-laden team. Don't get me wrong, I had Villanova winning this game and hit on both of my prop selections, but the way they made Oklahoma crumble was a thing of beauty for Wildcat fans and an embarrassment for Sooner Nation.
But there is no more time to dwell on the past. We must move forward and refocus on what could be one of the highest-scoring games in National Championship history. The current record for those curious is 181, which happened in 1964 between UCLA and Duke. 90 points apiece? Definitely doable for these two potent offenses.
Before I get into my prop selections for this National Championship Game, let's have a look at how these two teams stack up in the history books.
The Wildcats are making their third National Championship appearance and have captured the title only once previous, in 1985. Their other appearance happened in 1971, which resulted in a loss to UCLA.
The Tar Heels will be tipping off in their 10th National Championship Game and have captured five national titles to four runner-up medals. Their last trip to the title game came in 2009 where they beat out Michigan State.
As always, Bovada provided me with amazing prop bets and odds.
No. 2 Villanova Wildcats vs. No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels
Total Made 3-Point Shots
"Over" 14.5 -130, "Under" 14.5 -110
Despite how high the total score may end up, I think this number is a little too high for these two teams. While Villanova shoots around 49 percent from 3-point range, UNC is struggling and hitting at only a 35 percent clip.
A deeper look into the stats show that Villanova have made 11,4,10,10 and 13 3-point shots in their first five games of the tournament. That works out to an average of 9.5 3-point shots made per game. On the flip side, North Carolina has made 4, 4,11, 4 and 7 3-point shots in their first five games. That is an average of 6 made 3-point shots per game.
Based on those numbers, the over should be the play. However, I am going against what the numbers say and taking the under.
Villanova is coming off an 11-for-18 shooting performance from behind the arc, but that was against an Oklahoma team that gave up at halftime. I expect them to regress in that category and expect North Carolina to take away the strength of this Wildcats' team.
I am not too worried about UNC's ability to knock down their 3-point attempts as they would much prefer an up-tempo, fast-breaking, take-the-ball-to-the-rim style of game.
I do think this game will be a higher-scoring contest, but I see them doing it the old-fashioned way. Plenty of mid-range jumpers and a slew of "And-1's".
Take the "Under" 14.5 at -110
Total Points (Range) - Regulation Time Only
"171-180" Total Points +1200
I think this game goes over the total. I think there will be plenty of fouls in this game and the opportunity to put points on the board with the clock stopped.
Both these teams average more than 80 points per game. UNC leads the way at an even 88 ppg and scores just about half of their points in the paint thanks to the play of Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks. They will have the matchup advantage in the paint all game, which should be and will be taken advantage of.
Villanova checks in a shade less than 85 ppg and scores around 33 points in the paint per game. Their advantage is out on the perimeter and they are going to need to knock down their open looks, whether it be 3-point attempts or mid-range jumpers to stay in the game. Both teams have the talent to beat each other on any given day and if both teams play their best then we are in store for an offensive fireworks display.
I don't think they will top the current record of 181 total points in a title game, but they will come close. This is too juicy of a line to pass up with two offensively-gifted teams.
First Team to Reach 10 Points
Villanova -110, UNC -130
I always like siding with the team that establishes themselves down on the blocks early in the game. I expect UNC to work the ball down low and try to draw some quick, cheap fouls against Villanova to rattle them early on.
UNC definitely has the edge in the paint through Johnson and Meeks. These two big men will prove problematic for a Villanova team with only one real "big" in Daniel Ochefu.
I also believe that Villanova will be hard pressed to stay as hot as they were in their last game against Oklahoma.
I'll side with the coach who has been in this situation before, to have his team ready to go from opening tip and get the early jump on his opponent.
Pick: UNC -130
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