The over/under for the National Championship Game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and Kansas Jayhawks is 152.5 points (per BettingPros consensus odds), which is the highest projected total of any Kansas game since a December 29th non-conference game against Nevada. The high projected total should mean bettors can stand to cash in on some game and player props, especially those that are generously boosted by various sportsbooks.
This article offers our best player prop bet on a point total for a guy who has saved his best basketball of the season for the NCAA Tournament. We also take a stance on a team’s winning margin odds that pays out more handsomely than a straight moneyline wager. Finally, we hedge our bet with a play on the Most Outstanding Player Award, identifying a player whose odds seem much too low entering the championship game.
Here are our best prop bets from the National Championship Game between North Carolina and Kansas (Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook).
Caleb Love OVER 17.5 points (-105)
North Carolina is not a deep basketball team, and even its starting five has been relegated to the “Big Four,” as Leaky Black is not known as an offensive threat. That means players like Caleb Love have had to shoulder a huge offensive load throughout the Tar Heels’ impressive tournament run. Love has played his best basketball of the season of late, and he is a big reason the Tar Heels are playing for a championship on Monday night.
Love has played 119 of the possible 120 minutes in the team’s last three games, with the only time he was taken out coming in garbage time of a blowout win against Saint Peter’s. And outside of a five-point clunker against Baylor, Love has averaged 23.8 points in the four other tournament games, including his three-highest point totals of the season.
Love scored North Carolina’s last six points of a nip-and-tuck Final Four game against Duke, and it is clear head coach Hubert Davis is not shy about calling Love’s number in crunch time. In fact, Davis had the following to say about his clutch point guard:
Earlier this week, Hubert Davis was asked about Caleb Love: “You should always act like you've been there before, but the way Caleb is playing, he can do whatever he wants to do."
Love put Carolina on his back in the second half. 28 points, clutch shots. Unreal performance.
— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) April 3, 2022
Given how well he has performed in the tournament, we are confident in backing the over of Love’s projected point total. His +500 odds to win the MOP are also intriguing if you think North Carolina beats Kansas.
UNC To Win By 1-5 points (+390)
North Carolina’s moneyline odds are +155, so we are getting excellent value in comparison by backing them to win by five or fewer points. Of course, just one of the Tar Heels’ last 12 wins has come by five or fewer points, but this is the respect we are giving a red-hot Kansas team.
North Carolina has come a long way since a 12-6 start to the season and a nine-point home loss to Pittsburgh on February 16th that had many doubting if the Tar Heels would even make the tournament. The Tar Heels have won 17 of 20 entering the National Championship, and BartTorvik’s metrics (as outlined in Brad Evans’ tweet) show they are more evenly matched with the Jayhawks than many would believe.
Below is an advanced analytics comparison of UNC vs. Kansas in NCAA Tournament games as tracked by BartTorvik.
Near mirror images. pic.twitter.com/CK0hDEsfcd
— Brad Evans (@NoisyHuevos) April 3, 2022
Instead of a much lower payout with North Carolina’s moneyline odds, consider backing their winning margin prop bet.
David McCormack to Win Most Outstanding Player (+1500)
We want to cover ourselves with some sort of wager on Kansas if the favored Jayhawks win the championship. There is not much better out there while predicting the Jayhawks win than with David McCormack’s +1500 MOP odds.
McCormack got off to a slow start in the tournament with 24 combined points through the first three rounds. That is why his odds are much lower than Ochai Agbaji’s (+120) and Remy Martin’s (+1000). However, McCormack has come on strong of late, averaging 20 points and 6.5 rebounds in wins over Miami and Villanova. And suppose Armando Bacot’s ankle limits him more than initial reports say it will. In that case, the Tar Heels do not have anyone that can match McCormack’s physicality, which opens the door for another monster game on the biggest stage.
If McCormack scores another 20+ points (he had a season-high 25 against Villanova) in a Kansas victory, his torrid last three-game stretch may sway voters. This wager also assumes that Leaky Black, UNC’s best on-ball defender, forces Agbaji into a bad game. McCormack also may earn the sentimental vote, as he has been a vital part of the Kansas roster in his 129-game Jayhawks career. Thus, his questionably high MOP odds deserve at least some financial backing.
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