San Diego State (32-6) vs Connecticut (30-8)
When: Monday, April 3rd 2023
Where: NRG Stadium,
Time: 9:20 ET | TV: CBS
Opening Odds: Connecticut -6.5/130.5
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The stage is set for Monday night. The NCAA Basketball season comes down to the San Diego State Aztecs and Connecticut Huskies. Both teams are well-deserving of their place in the title game despite not being the top seeds in their region. Shows what the selection committee knows, yeah? San Diego State has used solid defense and physical play to win five games in this tournament including a 72-71 buzzer-beater over upstart Florida Atlantic in Saturday’s first semifinal game. The Aztecs are the first team to win their Elite Eight game and semifinal game by exactly one point.
They will need everything they have to upset the steamrolling Huskies. UConn has won all five of their games by double-digits and are 7.5-point favorites in Monday’s national title game. The Huskies have taken out Iona, Saint Mary’s CA, Arkansas, Gonzaga and most recently Miami FL. Their average margin of victory in this tournament is 79.8 – 59.2. The Huskies are shooting almost 50 percent from the floor while holding their opponents to just 34.7 percent. These teams last played in the 2011 tournament in which Connecticut won 74-67.
The Aztecs were down big against Florida Atlantic but clawed their way back by pounding the offensive glass. That set the stage for the dramatic buzzer-beater by Lamont Butler. He finished with nine points on Saturday, but it was Matt Bradley who led the way with 21 points including 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. San Diego State has also beaten Creighton and top-seeded Alabama during their tournament run. The Aztecs are a sizzling 15-5 against the spread in their last 21 games overall.
Connecticut definitely has the history over the other Final Four teams, winning four national championships. They can tie Duke and Indiana for fourth-most all-time behind UCLA (11), Kentucky (8) and North Carolina (6). The Huskies are 21-6 against the spread in their last 27 NCAA Tournament games. After starting the season 14-0, UConn dropped six of eight games before getting back on track. Junior forward Adama Sanogo and sophomore guard Jordan Hawkins lead a balanced offensive attack. The Huskies are third in offensive efficiency, according to KenPom.
UConn should win this game, but the Aztecs are no push-overs. They didn’t get this far by luck. San Diego State is well-coached and play physical defense. They also have an experienced team that won’t let the big stage rattle them. This is a lot of points for a championship game and I’m going to take them.
Pick: San Diego State +7.5