The Tar Heels were installed as consensus two-point favorites over the Wildcats at multiple Las Vegas sportsbooks. Sportsbook operator CG Technology opened North Carolina as a 1.5-point favorite. Station Casinos went with North Carolina at minus-2.5, and the Westgate SuperBook, William Hill and the Wynn went with the Tar Heels at minus-2.
The line quickly grew to North Carolina minus-3 as of Sunday morning. The over/under is set at 152.
North Carolina blew past tournament-upstart Syracuse 83-66 on Saturday to reach the national championship game. The Tar Heels are looking for their sixth title.
Villanova advanced to the championship game with a historic 95-51 rout of Oklahoma earlier Saturday.
The Wildcats have won their five tournament games by an average margin of 24.2 points, with only Kansas staying within double-digits of coach Jay Wright's red-hot team. Villanova is shooting 58.2 percent from the floor during the tournament.
If the line holds, it will be only the third game this season in which Villanova is the underdog. The Wildcats were small underdogs when they beat No. 1 overall seed Kansas in the Elite Eight. They were also underdogs at Virginia in an 86-75 loss in December.
The favored team has won seven of the past 10 national championship games. However, the past two champions, Duke and Connecticut, were underdogs.