UNC vs Kansas: CBB Player Prop (4/4)
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UNC vs Kansas: CBB Player Prop (4/4)

Justin Bales

The North Carolina (UNC) Tar Heels and Kansas Jayhawks will face off in the NCAA Championship Game at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. Kansas has been business as usual throughout the entire season on their way to a one seed. North Carolina hasn’t been quite as successful, as they’ve struggled at times throughout the season. With that being said, they’re 11-1 since an embarrassing home loss to Pittsburgh in the middle of February. Kansas is currently a -4 point favorite in a game set at 152 points. In this article, I’ll outline my favorite bet for the UNC vs Kansas championship game. 

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UNC vs Kansas

Brady Manek over 2.5 3PM (-125)

These teams have had very different but also very interesting paths to the championship game. North Carolina started with a 32-point blowout against Marquette. They followed that up with an overtime win over Baylor. This game became known for questionable refereeing, as they ejected Brady Manek and called a questionable fifth foul on Caleb Love. It resulted in the team blowing a 20+ point lead before winning in OT. The Tar Heels then took down UCLA before ending Saint Peter's Cinderella run in the Elite Eight. Finally, UNC knocked off Duke to end Coach K’s career on Saturday night. 

Kansas, on the other hand, had arguably the easiest path to the championship game in recent memory. As the top overall seed in their region, the Jayhawks beat Texas Southern in the first round. They made it to the Final Four with wins over Creighton, Providence, and Maimi (FL). Kansas beat Villanova on Saturday to advance to the championship game. With that being said, it isn’t without an asterisk, as Villanova was without one of their key contributors in Justin Moore. 

Manek’s been enjoying an elite season for the Tar Heels. He’s averaging 15.2 points with 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 30.3 minutes per game. Overall, Manek’s averaging 11.5 field goal attempts, 6.2 three-point attempts, and 1.9 free throw attempts per game this season. 

The key to this bet is the transfers ability to shoot the deep ball. He’s hit 3+ 3PM in 8 of his last 9 games, including each of his 5 tournament games. In the NCAA Tournament, he’s averaging 3.8 3PM on 8 3PA per game. 

Manek’s always found tremendous success beyond the arc throughout his career. He’s shot 35% or better in each of his five college seasons. He’s taken a massive step forward this season, as he’s shooting 40.1% from deep as a Tar Heel. More importantly, he shot a ridiculous 41.5% from deep in conference play. He’s also shooting nearly 50% from beyond the arc in the NCAA Tournament. 

This is quietly a matchup I’m intrigued by. Kansas doesn’t allow many three-point attempts and they boast one of the better three-point defenses in the NCAA. With that being said, Manek isn’t a player that has the ability to completely take over the game. In other words, he won’t be a focal point of the defense. 

Manek is almost exclusively a catch-and-shoot player, and he’s elite at that. It also works in the system North Carolina runs, as they have several other players that can take over the game. The Tar Heels can play either through Love or RJ Davis, or they can play inside-out with Armando Bacot. 

Dajuan Harris has been an elite defender, and true difference-maker, for Kansas in the tournament. He’ll take away plenty of opportunities from either Love or Davis. I’d also expect the Jayhawks to run some double-teams on Carolina’s guards, similar to how they did against Villanova. 

Ultimately, Manek should see plenty of opportunities throughout this game. He’s performed extremely well with those opportunities in the tournament, and I don’t see any reason that will change tonight. Kansas has to force someone to beat them, and I’m fully expecting them to try to take away Love and Bacot. Even Davis is a player they’d look to take away before Manek. I’m expecting plenty of three-point attempts from Manek, and he’ll continue his outstanding efficiency tonight. 

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