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Kansas-North Carolina bets move line for NCAA title game

The early action on Monday’s NCAA championship game has been on Kansas and the under, with sharp bettors on the under.

The Jayhawks opened as low as 3½-point favorites over North Carolina at Station Casinos on Saturday night after Kansas’ 81-65 victory over Villanova and the Tar Heels’ 81-77 upset of Duke in the national semifinals.

But the consensus line climbed to 4½ on Sunday.

“The early action has been on Kansas,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “But I really feel the late play will be on North Carolina.

“It’s a great matchup. Two blue blood programs. We expect a record handle.”

The ticket count was even at the Westgate SuperBook, but more money was wagered on the Jayhawks, who are -190 on the money line (the Tar Heels are +170).

“We had some Kansas money line bets,” SuperBook vice president of risk Ed Salmons said. “For the day before the game, I’m surprised by how much action we’ve had already.

“The whole tournament, compared to last year, matches up favorably to the pre-COVID year of 2019. It’s been great.”

The consensus total is 152 after opening at 153½ at multiple books. Circa Sports reported sharp action on under 153.

Unders went 11-1 in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight before both Final Four games went over the total.

Kansas and Villanova flew over the total of 132½. Duke and North Carolina combined for 20 points in the final 2:10 to push the game over the total of 153.

The Jayhawks easily covered as 4½-point favorites over the Wildcats in their 10th straight win (7-3 ATS) going back to the regular season.

The Tar Heels, who were 4½-point underdogs to the Blue Devils, have covered all five NCAA Tournament games, including three as underdogs.

Circa, the SuperBook and BetMGM reported winning days on the Final Four, while Station lost.

“We split the two games. Small loser for the day,” Esposito said. “We needed Villanova the biggest.”

North Carolina, which has covered nine of its past 10 games, delivered a win for the books in Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final game. Salmons expects to need the Tar Heels again Monday.

“It’s hard to understand how North Carolina has changed its season around so fast, because it had been so inconsistent all year long,” Salmons said. “For whatever reason in the tournament, it’s kind of all clicked together.

“Kansas is considered a much better team. It’s Kansas’ game to lose. Plus, was beating Duke Carolina’s Super Bowl? I don’t know. Kansas definitely has the much better resume all year long. They seem like the more deserving champion. But this tournament has been screwy. Nothing would surprise me at this point.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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