Purdue vs. UConn 2024 March Madness Championship Game Best Bets: Huskies to Boil Purdue

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The Championship game of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament is now set. And after a typical March Madness full of upsets, we end up with a formful Final matchup of 1-seeds. In fact, we have a battle between the top two rated teams on Kenpom in #1 Connecticut and #2 Purdue.

After going 2-1 with our Final Four bets with the only loss on Connecticut’s first-half pick coming due to insane Alabama 3-point shooting, we again have three plays for the Championship. These three picks show betting value based on our proprietary model, which has produced a winning record this season in the BMR NCAAB Betting Forum.

Let’s go ahead and break down the NCAAB odds provided by the top-rated sportsbooks.

NCAAB Top Pick: UConn -6.5 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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UConn -6.5 (-108)
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Purdue Boilermakers vs. Connecticut Huskies

Monday, April 08, 2024 – 09:20 PM ET at State Farm Stadium

After foolishly fading the Huskies in the first two rounds, we have since ridden them to three straight safe-covering wins. With all due respect to Purdue being the second-best team in the country, we are not getting off that Connecticut freight train now as we look for another handy victory.

Defense Wins Championships

The Huskies suffered a bit for the first time in this entire tournament on Saturday, after not being challenged at all during their entire NCAA Tournament run last year. But to put things in perspective, Alabama stayed close by shooting an unsustainable 8-for-11 beyond the 3-point arc in the first half.

Once that 3-point barrage subsided in the second half, UConn pulled away and still won by 14 points 86-72. A “challenge” ending with a 14-point win should give an idea of how high the Connecticut standards are these days. And while we understand this betting line being in the single digits against the #2 team in the land, we still think this spread is a bit light.

Yes, these two teams are basically mirror images stylistically, even having the very same weakness in turnover percentage allowed while being good at everything else. However, while the teams have similar strengths, Connecticut is simply better at most of them with the biggest key here being their elite defense.

The Huskies are fourth in the country in defensive efficiency, third in eFG% and, most importantly for this game, second in 2-point defense at a mere 43.0%. To give an idea of how great the UConn defense is, they did not allow a single fastbreak point against an Alabama team that usually thrives in transition. And let us not forget that Connecticut leads the country in offensive efficiency on the other end,

Tougher Matchup for Edey

Granted, Purdue is also well-balanced. They rank third in offensive efficiency and 12th in defensive efficiency. However, this is one of the few times they are not the more efficient team on offense, and there is a noticeable difference between these teams in 2-point defense, where the Boilermakers are a good but not elite 53rd.

And while the Boilers have the best player on the floor in the 7’4” Zach Edey, he should face more resistance here than he has all season. That is because the superior UConn 2-point defense is keyed by a giant of their own in 7’2” Donovan Clingan. Clingan had four blocks against Alabama and whose 11.8% block percentage ranks seventh in the country.

That means that Purdue would probably need to emulate Alabama and make a ton of threes to have a chance at the upset. And to be fair, the Boilermakers are second in the nation in 3-point shooting at 40.6%. There are two caveats there though, with the first being that a great percentage is not over a lot of attempts, as the Boilers are only 235th in 3PA/FGA ratio.


The second caveat is that with Purdue expected to have less success than usual inside, it may have a trickle effect with Connecticut able to apply more pressure on the perimeter. We see the end result of this being UConn repeating as National Champions with a safe win by around 10 points.

Predicted Score: UConn 75 – Purdue 65

NCAAB Pick: UConn -6.5 (-108) at Heritage Sports 

Fewer Threes Expected

Connecticut has gotten off to fast starts throughout this tournament. They’ve owned the halftime lead in all five games. However, while the offense did its thing Saturday with 44 points in the first half, the lead was only four points due to Alabama going 8-of-11 on 3-point shots before the break as mentioned. Once that shooting cooled off, the Crimson Tide scored just 32 points in the second half.


As we alluded to, we do not expect Purdue to have their usual offensive success now facing the best defense they have faced all season. And we certainly do not expect them to shoot over 70% from three-land in the first half, so bet on UConn to have better luck and cover the first-half line this time.

Predicted Score: UConn 38 – Purdue 32 (Halftime)

NCAAB Pick: 1st Half UConn -3.5 (-110) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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1st Half Connecticut -3.5 (-110)
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Both Teams Prefer Slow

Finally, after both of these teams went Under in their respective Final Four matchups, we are looking for more of the same here.

While each team has had success while playing at a fast pace or slow pace, each squad prefers the latter, so that is what we will get. To wit, Connecticut ranks 328th in the land in Tempo Rating and 294th in Average Possession Length, while Purdue is 211th and 244th in those two metrics respectively.


When you add those factors to each team ranking in the top 12 nationally in defensive efficiency, we expect a lower-scoring game than this total implies even with Connecticut winning comfortably.

NCAAB Pick: Under 145.5 (-109) at Bookmaker (visit our Bookmaker Review)

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Under 145.5 (-109)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.