HOUSTON, TEXAS, Sporting Alert – College basketball top honor will be handed out on Monday night, and both North Carolina and Villanova head into the battle confident about lifting the national title this year.
Opening tip for the matchup is at 9:19 p.m. ET (8:19 p.m. in Houston).
The battlers have a history as well, as North Carolina, which has won five national titles, has beaten Villanova in three of those tournaments, including an 83-69 positive result in the Final Four of the 2008-09 season.
— Villanova MBB (@NovaMBB) April 4, 2016
Both teams have been impressive in this year’s tournament and the matchup at the NRG Stadium, here in Houston, Texas, is expected to be a close encounter.
Pre-season No. 1 and the top seed from the East Regional, North Carolina, is being favored by two points, according to the bookies, with the game total set at 149.5.
UNC is the 24th preseason No. 1 team to reach title game.
14 of previous 23 have gone on to win the championship. pic.twitter.com/jOcvbc25Jw
— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) April 3, 2016
The Tar Heels (33-6) earned their spot with an 83-66 victory over Syracuse in their Final Four encounter on Saturday, with four of the five starters scoring in double-figures.
In the meantime, Villanova (34-5) knocked off two Big 12 giants en route to booking their place in the national championship game.
The Wildcats first put away No. 1 overall seed Kansas, 64-59 in the Elite Eight, before hammering another very strong title contenders, the Oklahoma Sooners by 44 points in a remarkable 95-51 victory in their Final Four contest on Saturday.
Junior guard Josh Hart was in fine form against Oklahoma — finishing with a game-high 23 points on 10 of 12 shooting from the floor to go with his eight rebounds, four assists and two steals, as Villanova sealed the biggest winning margin in national semifinal history.
North Carolina is heading into Monday night’s game as the side to beat via Vegas, but Tar Heels forward Justin Jackson, who scored 16 points in the win over the Orange, believes the Big East club will be no pushover if the last outing is anything to go by.
“Anytime a team beats a team by 44 it’s eye-opening,” Jackson said, following Nova’s one-sided win over the Sooners.
He was also very impressed with the shooting performance of the Wildcats.
But, let’s be honest, who wasn’t?
“They shot 71 percent [on Saturday]? It’s hard to do that by yourself,” Johnson added.
UNC is seeking its sixth NCAA National Championship after winning crowns in 1982, 1993, 2005 and 2009.
Current head coach Roy Williams goes in search of his third national title with the Tar Heels and is coaching in the final for the fifth time.
North Carolina leads the all-time series with Villanova, 11-4 and has won last three meetings.
When Villanova takes the court on Monday night, it will be the third time in program history that the Wildcats will be playing for a national championship, but the first since winning its only title in 1985.