The much-anticipated matchup between UNC and Kansas is finally here! Who will come out on top? Our experts make their predictions.
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The Case for UNC
The Tar Heels are playing some of their best basketball of the season heading into the tournament. They have wins over Duke, Louisville, and Virginia, and they nearly beat Gonzaga on a neutral court. They have the size, shooting, and experience to make a deep run in the tournament.
Their recent success
In the National Championship game last year, Villanova completed one of the most dominant runs in recent memory.
upsetting a UNC team that came in as heavy favorites. This was a UNC team that had just set the NCAA record for most wins in a season, and had breezed through the tournament up to that point.
This UNC team is different. They’re not as dominant, but they’re also not as reliant on their star players. Joel Berry II, who missed most of last season with an ankle injury, is back and healthy. He’s joined by fellow senior Theo Pinson, who has been one of the best all-around players in the country this season. The real key for UNC, however, has been the play of their freshmen: specifically point guard Coby White and wing Cam Johnson.
White is one of the best scorers in the country, and Johnson has been one of the most efficient shooters in college basketball this season. They give UNC a level of firepower that they didn’t have last year. When you combine that with the experience and leadership of Berry and Pinson, it’s easy to see why this UNC team is dangerous.
One of the most experienced teams left in the NCAA tournament is the University of North Carolina. The Tar Heels have been to the tournament 33 times, won it five times and have been to the Final Four 20 times. They also have three National Player of the Year winners on their roster in Joel Berry, Luke Maye and Kenneth Faried. All this experience will be vital in leading UNC deep into the tournament.
Another advantage that UNC has is that they have already played Kansas this season. In that game, UNC won 80-66. While it is just one game, it does give UNC some insight into how to play Kansas and what their strengths and weaknesses are. This could prove to be a crucial advantage for UNC in their matchup against Kansas.
The Case for Kansas
The Jayhawks come into this game against the Tar Heels with an undefeated record. They have some of the best guards in the country and they are playing with a lot of confidence. The Jayhawks have looked like the better team all season long and they should be able to come away with a victory in this one.
Their recent success
In the past three years, Kansas has won 32 games and lost only 7. They have won the Big 12 championship outright each year, and they have also won the conference tournament twice in that span. Their success has not just been limited to the regular season, as they have also made it to the Sweet Sixteen in each of those three years, and to the Elite Eight twice. In other words, Kansas has been one of the most successful programs in college basketball over the past three years.
One big reason for their success has been their ability to recruit top-tier talent. In each of the past three recruiting classes, Kansas has had at least one player ranked in the top 10 of ESPN’s recruiting rankings. In 2016, they had two players in the top 5: Josh Jackson (who was eventually named the National Player of the Year) and Malik Newman. This kind of talent has allowed Kansas to compete at a high level year after year.
It is worth noting that Kansas’ recent success is not just limited to basketball. In football, they have won 11 games in each of the past two seasons and made it to back-to-back bowl games for the first time since 2007-08. They also won a share of the Big 12 title in 2017. There is no doubt that Kansas is one of the most successful athletic programs in all of college sports right now.
Kansas has been to the Final Four 14 times, winning five national championships. The Jayhawks have also won at least a share of the last 13 Big 12 regular-season titles.
UNC, meanwhile, is in the Final Four for the 20th time and is looking for its sixth national championship. The Tar Heels have won 18 ACC regular-season titles.
It is finally time to see who will win the big game. After a long and hard fought season, both teams have made it to the championship. So, who will come out on top?
The experts have weighed in and it looks like UNC has a slight edge. They are favored by 2.5 points and have a 57% chance of winning according to FiveThirtyEight. However, anything can happen in the NCAA tournament so don’t count Kansas out just yet.
In the end, it is up to the players on the court and which team wants it more. So, be sure to tune into the game and see who comes out on top!