NCAA Odds Favor North Carolina Over Gonzaga, Coaches Talk Casino Rendezvous

Posted on: April 3, 2017, 10:00h. 

Last updated on: April 3, 2017, 10:24h.

NCAA odds have the North Carolina Tar Heels as the slight favorite over the Gonzaga Bulldogs for tonight’s men’s basketball national championship game at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

NCAA odds UNC North Carolina Gonzaga
NCAA odds online and in Vegas favor North Carolina winning its sixth national men’s basketball title, and third under coach Roy Williams. (Image: Brandon Dill/Associated Press)

The Westgate SuperBook has No. 1 UNC (32-7) at less than a bucket over No. 1 Gonzaga (37-1), with the spread at just 1.5 points. The Vegas sportsbook has the total points at 154.5.

Nearly all of the books in Nevada and online have North Carolina as a small 1.5-point favorite. Straight-up bets are basically even money, as the experts aren’t willing to pick a better No. 1 seed.

How We Got Here

No. 7 South Carolina did all it could to write another chapter in its Cinderella March Madness story, and while the Gamecocks mounted a great comeback in the second half of their Final Four game on Saturday, the Bulldogs were able to fend off the challenge. Gonzaga’s had perhaps the easier run to Phoenix, as the Bulldogs lowest-seeded opponent in the tournament came against No. 4 West Virginia in the Sweet 16.

UNC meanwhile had to top not only No. 4 Butler in the Sweet 16, but also No. 2 Kentucky in the Elite Eight. The Tar Heels than had to beat a strong No. 3 Oregon offense, which it did, barely, 77-76 on Saturday.

Vegas sportsbooks making the NCAA odds think the Tar Heels will win, but ESPN’s Matchup Predictor says otherwise. The computer algorithm takes emotion out of the equation and gives the Bulldogs a 58.8 percent chance of claiming the national title.

However, Bing Predicts has the Tar Heels with a 52 percent shot at cutting down the nets tonight. The discrepancies highlight the two talented teams and what should be an evenly matched championship game.

Casino Night

March Madness is one of the busiest times for Vegas, as casino sportsbooks are flooded with bettors looking to add a financial incentive to their basketball viewing. Though the NCAA certainly doesn’t embrace gambling, the two coaches in tonight’s finale have no qualms in sharing a story about their rendezvous casino trip in 2009.

Eight years ago, UNC coach Roy Williams and Gonzaga coach Mark Few, along with their coaching staffs, made a late-night trip to an unnamed casino in Tunica, Mississippi. The future hall of fame coaches were in Memphis for the Sweet 16, and four days before the two teams were set to clash, Williams called Few and asked if his staff wanted to hit up a casino after the players were in bed.

Both coaches said their curfew for their players was midnight, and after the lights went out in the hotel rooms, the coaches traveled some 40 miles to Tunica to gamble.

“We all got out butts kicked and handed to us and lost some money,” Few told The Washington Post. “But we had fun.”

There will be plenty of fun when the title game tips off at 9:20 pm ET.