NCAA Tournament National Championship Game Picks

San Diego State at Connecticut National Championship Game Odds

They call it March Madness for a reason with the three-week frenzy coming to an end Monday night with the San Diego State Aztecs taking on the favored Connecticut Huskies in the National Championship game. Dancing for the 10th time in 14 seasons, the Aztecs reached the Final Four for the first time advancing with a dramatic buzzer-beater from Lamont Butler to get past FAU. The path was much easier for the Huskies with their 13-point national semifinal win over Miami the closest of their five Tournament games. UConn is laying 7.5-points on the college basketball betting line.

The NCAA Championship Game will go down Monday, April 3, 2023 at 9:20 p.m. ET from NRG Stadium in Houston, TX. The game will be televised live on CBS.

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Odds Analysis

You have to win five straight to reach the championship and both clubs were hot before the tournament. Over the last two months the Aztecs lost only once going 15-1 SU and 11-4-1 ATS in their previous 16 encounters. Playing as a dog in both games over the second weekend of the tournament the Aztecs prevailed over Alabama and Crieghton. They are 3-1 SU and ATS when catching points and opened as a 7.5-point dog in this one. Being one of the stingiest defensive teams in the country allowed SDSU to go on a binge with the total. They cashed the UNDER in 12 straight games before the streak ended in a 72-71 win over FAU on Saturday.

UConn got as high as No. 2 in the national rankings by winning 14 straight to open the year. The perfect season ended against Xavier at the end of December starting a slide that saw the Huskies lose six of eight games while going 2-6 ATS. Three of those setbacks were by 10 or more points. That glitch has been remedied with the Huskies going 14-2 SU and 13-3 ATS since then with payouts in all five tournament games thanks to an average margin of 20.6 points. Their closest tournament game was a 13-point win over Miami in the national semifinals. The two losses were by a total of five points to Elite Eight squad Creighton and Big East regular season and tournament champion Marquette.

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San Diego State Aztecs

Their goal is to frustrate teams with boredom. The Aztecs slow the tempo and lock down defensively leading to low scoring contests. It may not be exciting, but you can’t argue with the results. The third best three-point field goal defense takes away a huge part of an opponent’s offense. SDSU stymied Bama’s Brandon Miller holding him to 1 of 10 shooting from distance and the Tide was just 3 of 27 from behind the arc. FAU had more success in the Final Four going 9 of 22 from distance, but the Aztecs used a second half stretch of swarming defense to erase a 14-point deficit than let Butler do the rest with a buzzer-beating hoop to decide the outcome.

Butler was the hero on Saturday and one of several players to step up offensively during the tournament. Four different players have led the team in scoring picking up the slack for Matt Bradley, who totaled just eight points in wins over Alabama and Creighton. That the Aztecs won those games tells you a lot about their depth.

Connecticut Huskies

There’s a lot of talk about San Diego State’s defense entering the championship but the Huskies have been better in several statistical categories during the tournament. And they did a number on the No. 1 scoring offense holding Gonzaga to 33.3 percent shooting and 2 of 20 from behind the arc in an 82-54 rout. Miami’s top 10 offense was also held in check in the semifinal round. If the Huskies can manhandle teams that score a bunch of points, the Aztecs will struggle.

The Huskies have an edge offensively since they don’t rely on the three-pointer rather they use it as a product of what they do. Adama Sanogo has attempted four triples in the tournament with three of them coming against the Canes with two makes. Yet he’s scored double figures in all five games thrice topping 20 points. He put together back to back double-doubles and has three in the tournament. The presence of Sanogo down low opens the perimeter for Jordan Hawkins, who averages more than 15 points, with the duo being a nuisance for opposing defenses.

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One thing that will benefit SDSU is their success in close games. They are comfortable winning nine straight decided by five points or less while UConn’s two closest games in their last 13 resulted in defeats. The Aztecs have options on offense just not the numbers since they prefer to stop teams, and they’re good at it. I think this one is going to be closer than most expect so I’m backing the points.

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