It’s a blueblood Final Four of the 2022 NCAA Tournament.

The NCAA Tournament is annually chock-full of upsets in the first two rounds and even occasionally in the Sweet 16 as we had No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s reached the Elite Eight this year, only the third No. 15 to do so. However, by the Elite Eight round, the cream usually rises to the top in the Big Dance, and that’s very much the case with an absolute blueblood Final Four on Saturday from New Orleans with Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, and Villanova still standing.

Only eight schools have won three or more men’s NCAA Tournaments, and those are four of them. The schools have won nine championships since 2000. It will also continue a trend that only a team from a power conference will win it all.

The last time a team from outside the Power 5 or the Big East won a title was in 1990 – OK, technically UConn did in 2014 while in the AAC, but the Huskies have spent most of their history in the Big East, where they are back now.

The favored result by oddsmakers in Monday’s national title game is Duke over Kansas at +225.

Historic Tobacco Road Matchup

Saint Peter's Doug Edert Purdue's Ethan Morton
Saint Peter’s Doug Edert, right, reaches for a pass past Purdue’s Ethan Morton during the first half of a college basketball game in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament, Friday, March 25, 2022, in Philadelphia. Kansas.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

No question the story of the Final Four is Saturday’s matchup between bitter rivals Duke and North Carolina, somehow the first-ever NCAA Tournament game between them. How much would Tar Heel fans love to end Duke team coach Mike Krzyzewski’s career with a loss in the national semifinals? UNC already ruined Coach K’s final home game at Duke on March 5 with a 94-81 win. The Blue Devils won in Chapel Hill by 20 early in the season.

It’s almost as if the national title game will be a letdown for the Duke-UNC winner. The rivals were in the 1991 Final Four together but on opposite sides of the bracket. Kansas beat North Carolina on one side and Duke upset unbeaten UNLV on the other, with the Blue Devils then beating Kansas 72-65 to give Coach K his first national title.

The Dukies are +140 tournament favorites with Kansas at +180 – the Jayhawks beating Duke in the final is the second-favored exact result at +300. Those schools last played in the Champions Classic to open the 2019 season and they will play again in the 2022 Champions Classic in Indianapolis to open next season when Jon Scheyer takes over as Duke coach.

North Carolina is +500 to win the tournament and Villanova +600, with the Wildcats beating the Tar Heels as the +1200 long shot. Villanova surely would have shorter odds overall if not for losing Justin Moore to a season-ending injury in the Elite Eight win over Houston. The junior guard averages 14.8 points and 4.8 rebounds. It’s an even bigger issue for Villanova because Coach Jay Wright basically only had been playing six guys in his rotation.

UNC last played Villanova in the 2016 national title game with the Cats prevailing 77-74. The Tar Heels last faced Kansas in the 2013 NCAA Tournament’s Round of 32, won by KU.

James Guill

James Guill is a former professional poker player who writes fro about poker, sports, casinos, gaming legislation and the online gambling industry in general. His past experience includes working with IveyPoker, PokerNews, PokerJunkie, Bwin, and the Ongame Network. From 2006-2009 he participated in multiple tournaments including the 37th and 38th World Series of Poker (WSOP). James lives in Virginia and he has a side business where he picks and sells vintage and antique items.

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