The North Carolina Tar Heels are on the verge of yet another National Championship. They’ve made it all the way to Monday’s final at the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and North Carolina’s chances of winning their sixth March Madness title in school history look pretty good; they’re 1.5-point favorites at press time over the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

That being said, the Bulldogs (37-1 SU, 23-10-2 ATS) are formidable opponents, having outperformed everyone in Division I this year. The ‘Zags just don’t get as much credit coming out of the West Coast Conference, nor do they get the same national exposure that North Carolina does playing in the ACC.

West Coast Beef

From a betting perspective, there are so many things to like about Gonzaga aside from their prowess on the court. They play most of their games in the Pacific Time Zone, when fans (and sports writers) on the East Coast are getting ready for bed. Those who do stay up for late-night college basketball are more likely to watch the Pacific-12 Conference, where Lonzo Ball and the UCLA Bruins were soaking up most of the attention this year.

It’s a shame, because the Pac-12 wasn’t all that much better. The WCC was one of the strongest mid-majors in Division I this season, with Gonzaga and the St. Mary’s Gaels entrenched in Top 25 from wire to wire. The ‘Zags did a number on the eventual Pac-12 champions in non-conference play, beating the Arizona Wildcats 69-62 as 5-point favorites at the Staples Center. They also beat the Florida Gators 77-72 as 4-point favorites, and that was at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida. The SMU Mustangs (22-7-1 ATS) and Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (24-11 ATS) were the only teams that pounded the NCAAB betting lines more than Gonzaga.



North Carolina’s road to March Madness had a lot more twists and turns. There were non-con losses to the Indiana Hoosiers (+6 at home) and the Kentucky Wildcats (–1.5 in Las Vegas), and they lost their ACC opener to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (+17 at home). Then the Tar Heels lost to their rivals, the Duke Blue Devils (+4.5 in Brooklyn), in the second round of the ACC Tournament.

The Heels also needed some good fortune to make it through to Monday’s final. They squeaked past Kentucky (+2.5) by two points in the Elite Eight, then took advantage of some calls to beat the Oregon Ducks (+5) by a single point in the Final Four. Gonzaga’s ride to the National Championship Game hasn’t been nearly as bumpy. There were close shaves along the way, but nothing as dramatic as what North Carolina’s been through.

Anything can happen when you put two quality teams like this on the same court. But the betting market could be overlooking the Bulldogs in this matchup. We’ll see just how much bite they have at 9:20 PM ET tonight.


*Odds as of April 3, 2017