For the second time in three years, two No. 1 seeds will square off for the men's college basketball championship Monday night, as the North Carolina Tar Heels (32-7) are listed as small favorites against the Gonzaga Bulldogs (37-1).
The Tar Heels are making their second consecutive appearance in the Division I title game after losing to the Villanova Wildcats last year on a game-winning shot at the buzzer that prevented them from winning their sixth NCAA championship.
Point spread: The Tar Heels opened as two-point favorites; the total is at 154.5, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)
March Madness betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 75.6-72.7 Bulldogs (College basketball picks on every game)
Why North Carolina can cover the spread
North Carolina was a No. 1 seed a year ago too, and that experience of two straight trips to the Final Four and the hunger to win it all after falling just short last season is a clear advantage.
The Tar Heels are also an impressive 7-2 straight up and against the spread in their last nine games as favorites of two points or less. They are coming off a 77-76 win over the third-seeded Oregon Ducks out of the Midwest Region on Saturday with their defense and rebounding being the difference, but they failed to cover the spread as 4.5-point chalk.
Why Gonzaga can cover the spread
Gonzaga is trying to cash in on its first-ever trip to the Final Four by cutting down the nets against a North Carolina team that has some offensive weaknesses. The Tar Heels shot only 36.8 percent from the field versus the Ducks, while the Bulldogs made 48.3 percent in a 77-73 win over the seventh-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks out of the East Region on Saturday.
Like North Carolina, Gonzaga also did not cover as a 6.5-point favorite at online betting sites, with South Carolina using a 16-0 run to turn a 65-51 deficit into a 67-65 lead with a little more than seven minutes remaining. Regardless, the Bulldogs have weathered the storm from multiple opponents in the Big Dance and still keep winning.
Smart betting pick
The Tar Heels have won their last two games by a combined three points, and they are pretty lucky the Ducks did not get a chance to take a potential game-winning shot after four missed free throws in the final seconds.
North Carolina has now dodged bullets two games in a row, and Gonzaga will make sure it does not happen a third straight time. Nigel Williams-Goss has been the best player in the tournament for the Bulldogs, and he will take advantage of a gimpy Joel Berry II for the Tar Heels to lead his school to their first-ever national championship in their first game as underdogs all season.
March Madness betting trends
The total has gone under in 10 of North Carolina's last 14 games after a win.
The total has gone under in seven of Gonzaga's last 10 games.
Gonzaga is 1-5 SU in its last six games as an underdog.
The total has gone under in Gonzaga's last five games against the ACC.
All college basketball lines and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report's official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.