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Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski during a college basketball game between the Duke Blue Devils and the Clemson Tigers. (Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire)
March 28th, 2022
With the Final Four now set, the second-seeded Duke Blue Devils have surged to the top of the odds board and are the new favorite (+135) to win the 2022 NCAA Tournament in head coach Mike Krzyzewski's final season with the program.
Ahead of the Elite Eight, Duke was listed as a +400 choice to win the title, behind No. 2 seed Villanova and top seed Kansas, who also punched tickets to New Orleans for the national semifinal round.
The Wildcats were a +250 favorite to win the Big Dance before defeating Houston, 50-44, in the South Region final. They currently own the third best odds to hang an NCAA banner, with their opponent on Saturday, Kansas, listed as a +300 choice to win the school's first championship since 2008.
The Jayhawks defeated No. 10 seed Miami, 76-50, in the Midwest Region final and enter as a 4.5-point favorite in their matchup with Villanova.
The Wildcats are 20-3 in NCAA tournament games since 2016 and won NCAA titles in both 2016 and 2018. They are also in the midst of a 9-0 win streak in March and have won 14 of 15 games since the first week of February.
Kansas last lost at TCU on March 1, and also rides a nine-win streak, including narrow victories over No. 9 seed Creighton in the second round, and a 66-61 win over No. 4 seed Providence in the Sweet 16.
On the other side of the bracket, Coach K is set to face a familiar foe in No. 8 seed North Carolina, whom Duke has played 258 times in school history, but never in the NCAA Tournament.
Despite an up-and-down season in Hubert Davis' first year as UNC head coach, the Tar Heels have earned a trip to the Final Four, which will mark the school's 21st appearance in the national semifinal round, the most by any program.
Duke will play in its 13th Final Four under Krzyzewski, a record for a coach, and could secure the school's sixth national championship, which would tie UNC for the third most NCAA titles in history.
The men's Final Four is full of heavy-hitters: Villanova, Kansas, Duke, UNC. But no matchup is bigger than the first-ever Blue Devils vs. Tar Heels semifinal pairing — especially in Coach K's final season.By @APdaveskretta #MarchMadnesshttps://t.co/kTK81rXHC4— AP Top 25 (@AP_Top25) March 28, 2022
The men's Final Four is full of heavy-hitters: Villanova, Kansas, Duke, UNC. But no matchup is bigger than the first-ever Blue Devils vs. Tar Heels semifinal pairing — especially in Coach K's final season.By @APdaveskretta #MarchMadnesshttps://t.co/kTK81rXHC4
Saturday's matchup will offer the soon-to-be-retired Coach K a chance at revenge against UNC, after North Carolina beat Duke, 94-81, in Krzyzewski's final home game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Duke also played North Carolina on Feb. 5 and crushed the Tar Heels, 87-67, in Chapel Hill behind 57.6% shooting, including 47.4% from deep. The Blue Devils out-rebounded UNC 40-24 in their first meeting but lost the battle on the glass, 37-34, the second time around.
In the Sweet 16, Duke shot 70.8% from the field in the second half against Texas Tech, who owned the nation's best defense, and hit 54.7% of its shots against Arkansas' stingy defense in a 78-69 win in the Elite Eight.
North Carolina looked impressive in its 73-66 victory over No. 4 seed UCLA in the Sweet 16 and dominated the fan-favorite Saint Peter's Peacocks, 69-49 in the Elite Eight. Sophomore guard Caleb Love was a star in the Sweet 16, with a 30-point performance, while junior forward Armando Bacot scored 20 points and grabbed 22 rebounds against Saint Peter's.
The winner of Saturday's matchup between Duke and UNC will face either Kansas or Villanova on Monday, April 4, at 9:20 p.m. ET in the national championship game.
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