This article is part of our College Basketball Picks series.
Villanova (+4½) vs Kansas
Villanova has won 14 of its last 15 games, with its only stumble being a two-point loss on the road against a tough UConn team. While Kansas has also played well over the past couple of months, it has also taken a few more lumps, losing by double digits to Baylor, TCU and Kentucky, as well as needing overtime to survive a couple of other games. These two teams are nearly even on paper, but ultimately, I have to go with the team that's been more consistent, and that's Villanova. The Wildcats have used a tight lineup all season long, and it's about to get even tighter with Justin Moore suffering a season-ending injury in the Elite Eight. This kind of injury might usually hinder a team's chances to advance, and while Moore is a great player, Villanova is still equipped to survive. Serving as Villanova's primary sixth man, Caleb Daniels is accustomed to significant playing time and should help prevent much drop-off, especially with head coach Jay Wright having a few extra days to adjust the game plan. The Wildcats are also on the cusp of setting the new NCAA record for highest free-throw percentage as a team ever, a significant advantage that will surely come into play assuming it's a close game.
North Carolina vs Duke (-4)
With all its scoring and winning in the NCAA Tournament, Duke's offense has ascended to the top of KenPom's adjusted efficiency rankings. No surprise considering how the Blue Devils defeated Texas Tech and Arkansas, two of the best defenses in the country. North Carolina's defense has played well in the tournament, although that hasn't always been the case this season. Not too long ago, on Feb. 16, North Carolina allowed 76 points in a home loss to Pittsburgh, a team with the second worst-offensive efficiency in the ACC this season. Duke, on the other hand, played great defense all season long, especially over the past couple of months, finishing with the best defensive efficiency in the ACC during conference play. Numbers aside, Duke also appears to have the better roster, even if by only a slim margin. North Carolina isn't short on talent, but Duke still has an edge with potential No. 1 overall draft pick Paulo Banchero leading the way for the Blue Devils. This is the kind of game where each team will likely need contributions from all five starting players, and it seems that Duke has more scoring depth across all five positions, compared to North Carolina, a team that nearly suffered one of the worst all-time collapses against Baylor immediately upon Brady Manek getting ejected. When it's all said and done, Duke is the better scoring team and better defending team. I'll go with the Blue Devils.
North Carolina vs Duke - Over 151
Duke has scored 78-plus points in every tournament game so far, including against two of the best defenses in the country in Texas Tech and Arkansas. And helping our cause on the other side is North Carolina, a team that loves to run, recording the second-fastest tempo in the ACC this season. These two teams should be quite familiar with one another after beating each other handily in their previous two encounters this season. The number is on the high side, but I'm betting that it's still not high enough based on how these two teams play. Their most recent encounter had 175 total points scored, so it's possible we're looking at a game where we have close to 80 points at the half. In any event, it's hard to imagine either team rolling over at this stage of the game, so I'm expecting each team to put up a fight in the form of a shootout.