NCAA Championship Betting: Why the Kansas Jayhawks Can Win and Cover
Bill Self’s team may have reached a new level in the NCAA Tournament. The Kansas Jayhawks have been a perennial power in the Big 12 Conference. And some BetOnline customers may be aware that the inventor of basketball, Dr. James Naismith, once coached there.
Coach Bill Self has been on the job for 19 seasons, building his Hall of Fame resume. But he’s won the national championship only once. So he is hungry for another one. And his Jayhawks, winners of ten straight, are in a position to get it for him on Monday night.
It won’t be easy. The opposition is provided by the North Carolina Tar Heels, also on a hot streak. It tips off at 9:20 PM ET at the Superdome in New Orleans, with live TV from TBS.
The Jayhawks will be laying points in the NCAA Championship Betting Odds
|North Carolina||+4 ( -110 )||151½ ( -110 )||+165|
|Kansas||-4 ( -110 )||151½ ( -110 )||-190|
And they are also -190 favorites to win straight-up on the money line (UNC is +165).
So why do we think they can win this game, AND cover the number?
(1) Kansas has tightened up defensively in the NCAA Tournament
Coming into the Big Dance, KU allowed opponents to shoot 46.7% from the two-point range. But they have elevated their defensive game, yielding just 38.3% (69 of 180) inside the arc in the tourney. That is absolutely phenomenal. And they haven’t sprung many leaks on the outside either. Kansas has surrendered just 30.1% from the three-point range overall.
(2) Kansas is the team with the bench weapon
This is a game taking place between two squads that haven’t devoted a lot of time to bench minutes. And that makes Remy Martin important.
The Arizona State transfer was All-Pac 12 last year and has been sidetracked some with injuries. But he has provided a big boost in the Big Dance. Martin scored 58 points in the first three NCAA Tournament games. He can be Self’s ace in the hole.
(3) They might just be the hottest team at the moment
Kansas has won ten straight games. So they are hot, as you would expect a team to be when they are in the finals. Eight of those wins have been by seven points or more. And nine of them have come against teams that were in the NCAA Tournament.
So it’s not as if they have just found the right form lately.
(4) The re-emergence of Ochai Agbaji.
This senior is generally considered Kansas’ top weapon. He was Big 12 Player of the Year and a first-team All-American. But he was a little cold in the first three games, with just 31 points.
There is no doubt that the Jayhawks expected more out of him. And as BetOnline patrons have seen, they have gotten it against Miami and Villanova. Agbaji has blasted those teams for 18 and 21 points and has nailed eight of nine triples. He’s a dangerous long-range weapon, shooting 41% from downtown for the season.
(5) They have a guy who can neutralize North Carolina upfront
David McCormack is a powerful presence at 6-10 and 250 pounds. And while UNC’s Armando Bacot is eighth in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage, McCormack is fourth on the offensive end. He may have the capability of getting Bacot into foul trouble.
Coming into the NCAA Tournament, McCormack had made only 51.4% of his two-point attempts. That’s not awe-inspiring. But he has improved that to 63.2% in these five games in the Big Dance.
If he can get something going early, he opens things up for the outside shooters.
(6) Kansas could be fresher
In North Carolina’s dramatic win over Duke, Caleb Love and Leakyu Black played all 40 minutes. Caleb Manek played 39. Hubert Davis devotes only 20% of total minutes to the bench.
It’s a tough turnaround. If you recall last season, Gonzaga came off an OT win over UCLA. And then they looked pretty “spent” against Baylor.
Kansas has had an opportunity to at least conserve minutes for the starters a little more. That could be a difference-maker.
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