East meets West for the 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, and we’re looking to end the hoops campaign on a winning note with a pair of free NCAAB picks for the collision between San Diego State and UConn.
San Diego State Aztecs vs. Connecticut Huskies
Monday, April 03, 2023 – 09:20 PM EDT at NRG Stadium
One team has survived by scoring in the final seconds to win its last two games to reach the NCAA Championship for the first time and the other has won all five of its games by at least 13 points to stand on the cusp of winning a fifth title.
Adding to the intrigue is it pits teams from opposite coasts as the Connecticut Huskies of the Big East collide with the San Diego State Aztecs of the Mountain West, and the matchup takes place deep in the south down in the Lone Star State.
- Connecticut: 30-8 SU, 26-11-1 ATS, 20-18 O/U
4 Seed, West Region, At-Large, Big East
- San Diego State: 32-6 SU, 19-16-2 ATS, 15-22 O/U
5 Seed, South Region, AQ, Mountain West
UConn Chalk on the Rise
The winner is already guaranteed to be the lowest seed to win an NCAA Championship since Connecticut won the 2014 title as a No. 7. The Huskies would become just the second No. 4 to win it along with Arizona in 1997, and the Aztecs are looking to become the first No. 5 to cut down the nets.
Connecticut is favored to add to its trophy case, and the line movement indicates the betting public believes that will be the case. The Huskies opened -7 at most shops, and that spread is up to 7½ and even 8 at some outlets, with a slight increase in the total as well to 132½.
Dutcher – “I Ran Out of Plays”
One thing that will be discussed for years to come about the 2023 March Madness is just how close the title tilt came to being an all-Big East battle. The foul call near the end of the Aztecs’ 57-56 win over Creighton in the South Region Finals is sure to come up again and again.
Monday’s contest was also very close to having the biggest Cinderella of them all before San Diego State got a bucket from Lamont Butler as time expired to spoil the upset bid by 9th-seeded Florida Atlantic in a 72-71 final.
Butler’s winning jumper completed the comeback after the Owls led the Aztecs by 14 a little more than 5 minutes into the second half. Bookmaker.eu (visit our Bookmaker Review) closed San Diego State as 2-point chalk, ending a string of 6-straight Aztec covers going back to the MWC Tournament.
A missed shot by FAU gave San Diego State the ball with 9 seconds remaining, and the Aztecs pushed the ball downcourt instead of calling a timeout. Head coach Brian Dutcher explained his reasoning after the game: “I ran out of plays.”
Sanogo Averaging 20.2 PPG, 9.8 RPG at Dance
Dan Hurley and Connecticut played some close first halves in reaching the semifinals on Saturday, and once again found themselves tied with Miami at 19-19 with about 8 minutes to go in the opening stanza on Saturday.
The Huskies then took control with an 8-0 run and secured a 72-59 decision to more than double-up the 6-point spread at top-rated sportsbooks. It was their fifth consecutive spread beater at the dance, giving them a remarkable +78½ cover margin in the NCAA Tournament.
Connecticut shot 9-of-26 from 3-point range, which won’t set any records. But the Huskies started the win over Miami with a trio of 3’s to take a 9-0 lead, two of those bombs from Adama Sanogo who recorded his 2nd-straight double-double and third of the tournament.
Aztecs, Huskies Meet for 2nd Time
San Diego State and Connecticut met once before, and it just so happens to have been an NCAA Tournament game, and an NCAA Tournament the Huskies happened to have won.
The game took place in the 2011 Sweet 16, and Connecticut posted a 74-67 decision as a No. 3 seed as a small underdog on the NCAAB odds against the 2nd-seeded Aztecs.
- The Elite Eight win and cover over Creighton was San Diego State’s only Big East foe of the 2022-23 season.
- UConn last faced a Mountain West team in the 2012 Paradise Jam, losing a 66-60 decision to New Mexico as a 4-point underdog.
An Underdog & ‘Under’ Play
It has been 33 years since a team outside the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, PAC-12 or SEC won an NCAA Championship. The team that did it was the 1990 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, who just so happen to reside in the Mountain West these days.
I just don’t see that streak being broken this time, but I do expect the Aztecs to stay inside the number in a contest that stays below the scoreboard target at the top California sports betting sites.
NCAAB Pick: Under 132½ (-108) at Heritage Sports
*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.