Justin Jackson and Kennedy Meeks are leading North Carolina back to the NCAA championship game, and the Tar Heels are again the favorites.
Will the result be different?
At the South Point sports book, North Carolina opened as a 2-point favorite over Gonzaga in Monday night’s game. The line was bet to 1½ within 30 minutes. The total, which opened at 153½, was 154½ at the Westgate and some other Las Vegas sports books.
“This title game will highlight a record tournament handle,” VSiN oddsmaker Vinny Magliulo said. “A traditional power in North Carolina versus Gonzaga, one of the most consistent teams for the past 18 years.”
The Tar Heels closed as 4½-point favorites in a 77-76 victory over Oregon in the late semifinal. The score stayed under the closing total of 153½. Meeks totaled 25 points and 14 rebounds, and Jackson scored 22 points to help hold off the Ducks’ late rally.
In Saturday’s first game, Las Vegas products Nigel Williams-Goss and Zach Collins lifted the Zags to a 77-73 victory over South Carolina, which covered as a 6½-point underdog.
Williams-Goss, a junior point guard from Findlay Prep, finished with 23 points. Collins, a 7-foot freshman from Bishop Gorman High, had 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks.
North Carolina was a 3-point favorite in last year’s title game. The Tar Heels fell to Villanova 77-74 on Kris Jenkins’ 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Gonzaga (37-1) is seeking to become the first national champion that never played in a major conference since UNLV in 1990.
The Tar Heels (33-6) are 5-5 in 10 previous title game appearances. North Carolina is the eighth team to reach the championship game after finishing as runner-up the prior season, and the last to win was Kentucky in 1998.