There are still semifinal games to be played on Saturday but that won’t stop those who make March Madness predictions from looking ahead to Monday’s national title game.
While no championship matchup will create the buzz of the Duke-North Carolina semifinal, let’s take a look at the potential title game showdowns.
“You can’t go into the Final Four just thinking rivalry, payback or any of those things. You got to go in—we want to win a championship” – Coach K says
— Duke Basketball (@dukebasketball) March 29, 2022
Duke Blue Devils vs Kansas Jayhawks
How close could this game be? Well, there are the same odds (+350) for Kansas to beat Duke as it is for Duke to top Kansas.
It is easily the top matchup in the eyes of those who bet online as Duke’s talented group of freshmen and sophomores would go up against a senior-laden Kansas team. Duke would have the added motivation or perhaps the pressure is the better word of trying to send Krzyzewski out as a winner in his final run through the March Madness brackets
Duke Blue Devils vs Villanova Wildcats
Duke would clearly be the favorite at +500 to win this matchup while Villanova’s odds to beat Duke are +800 according to the college basketball spreads
Those March Madness odds would look much different if Villanova hadn’t lost second-leading scorer Justin Moore to a torn Achilles’ tendon in the last game.
Villanova coach Jay Wright has led the Wildcats to two national titles since Duke’s last championship so it might not be wise to count out the Wildcats.
Kansas Jayhawks vs North Carolina Tar Heels
Kansas is currently at +500 to come out on top in this potential showdown of Blueblood programs. There would be plenty of attention paid to Roy Williams, a regular in the stands at the North Carolina games as he coached both teams.
Watching Kansas trying to slow down North Carolina’s double-double machine Armando Bacot alone makes this an intriguing matchup and would give those who bet online something to ponder.
North Carolina is listed at +1000 to beat Kansas.
North Carolina Tar Heels vs Villanova Wildcats
The least likely of the title game matchups are showing +1200 March Madness odds regardless of which team is cutting down the nets in New Orleans.
It would quite be the story for Hubert Davis to lead North Carolina to the national title in his first season while three championships in seven years would be a remarkable achievement for Jay Wright and the Wildcats.
Catching a Draft
The Final Four can be the perfect place for a pro prospect to soar up the draft boards.
Many of the potential lottery picks in the upcoming NBA Draft have seen their seasons and perhaps their college careers come to an end but there are still some players to watch.
Paolo Banchero, Duke
The versatile freshman forward has the third-best chance to be taken first overall in the draft trailing only Auburn’s Jabari Smith and Chet Holmgren of Gonzaga according to the Las Vegas odds.
The 6-foot-10 Banchero is Duke’s leading scorer and rebounder. He will join Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor, Marvin Bagley and Vernon Carey as the other freshmen to be the Blue Devils’ top scorer and rebounder.
Ochai Agbaji, Kansas
Typically the draft is dominated by college freshmen and sophomores however Agbaji, the Big 12 Player of the Year, has a chance to crack the top 10 which doesn’t happen as much these days with four-year college players.
Agbaji has been solid but hardly dynamic for much of the March Madness bracket but this next game and possibly two games could solidify Agbaji’s position in the draft pecking order.
There’s something to be said for a player who went from averaging 8.5 points and 4.6 rebounds as a freshman to contributing 18.9 points and 5.2 rebounds as a senior. His shooting numbers have also improved over time as he went from shooting 31% from the 3-point line and 69% from the foul line to connecting on 40% of his 3-pointers and 76% of his foul shots.
A.J. Griffin, Duke
Griffin’s numbers might not jump off the screen but he has made as many clutch plays as any other Duke player during the NCAA tournament. He is coming off an 18-point effort in the regional final against Arkansas.
The 6-foot-6 freshman is tied for the ninth-best odds to be the No. 1 draft pick. His ability to shoot the ball will help his cause as he is making 50% of his shots including 45% of his 3-pointers.
Griffin is showing up as high as the top five in some mock drafts and he is one of those players who figure to put up better numbers at the pro level than he did in college.