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National Championship – San Diego State vs. UConn

It’s an unlikely matchup in the 2023 NCAA men’s basketball national championship game, but the way March Madness played out I guess we should’ve expected it. Making their first Final Four appearance, the San Diego State Aztecs needed a buzzer-beating hoop from Lamont Butler to upend FAU and advance to the title game against the Connecticut Huskies. UConn rolled through five tournament games beating opponents by an average of 20.6 points and the Huskies are a big 7.5-point favorite to win the fifth national title in program history.

The NCAA men’s basketball national championship game will air live on CBS at 9:20 p.m. ET on Monday, April 3, 2023 from NRG Stadium in Houston, TX.

NCAA Basketball Championship Odds

San Diego State Aztecs +7.5

Connecticut Huskies -7.5

Over/Under 132.5

Season Story

The Aztecs are breaking down a lot of barriers on their ride to the title game. Never has a No. 5 seed won the tournament and SDSU is the first team from the Mountain West Conference to reach the championship. Defense fueled their run to the MWC regular season and tournament titles and has been their strength in the NCAAs. They held each of their first two opponents to less than 60 points and hadn’t surrendered more than 64 points until FAU went for 71 in the Final Four matchup. Still, the Aztecs had a lockdown stretch in the second half that allowed them to overcome a 14-point deficit. Their pace is slow giving value to the UNDER. The Aztecs frustrated good offenses in Creighton and Alabama playing below the total in 12 straight before the FAU game. And they’ve lost just once since the start of February going 15-1 SU and 11-4-1 ATS.

A heavy favorite among the last four teams to win the national championship, the Huskies didn’t disappoint in their national semifinal win over Miami. During the tournament and through most of the season the Huskies have been balanced and peaked at the right time winning their five Tournament contests by an average of more than 20 points. Their 72-59 win over the Canes was the closest of the bunch. UConn closed the regular season with five straight Big East wins and is 11-1 SU and 10-2 ATS in their last 12 overall. The only setback was to regular season champ Marquette in the Big East tournament.

San Diego State Aztecs

The Aztecs have been a consistent force in the MWC and the NCAA Tournament. They just haven’t been as good in the past as they are this year getting beyond the Sweet 16 for the first time. They reached the title game on a Lamont Butler shot no one in San Diego will forget. People question their offensive ability since they rank outside the top 200 in effective field goal percentage and their 71.5 points per game ranks them 177th nationally. But the offense is a product of the team’s style. The Aztecs slow the game down and would rather score in the 50s or 60s giving them a better chance at victory.

We saw against FAU, and in other games during the year, that points are out there. And Matt Bradley scoring 21 against the Owls was a good sign. The leading scorer struggled in previous games yet SDSU was able to beat Bama and Creighton with Bradley scoring just eight points combined in those games. The Aztecs aren’t an offensive juggernaut but they have balance with six players averaging more than seven points in the tournament.

UConn Huskies

You could say the title is UConn’s to lose after dominating the tournament on both ends of the floor. And a lot of pundits will say the top of the Big East is as good as any conference with results backing that up. Three teams reached the Sweet 16 not including Marquette, which won the regular season and conference tournament titles. And UConn has dominated outside the Big East going 16-0 SU and 15-0-1 ATS against non-league teams. The Huskies have three wins by more than 20 points with a margin of 20.6 points in five NCAA Tournament games.

UConn is among the best on both ends of the floor ranking inside the top 10 nationally in both offensive and defensive efficiency. The duo of Adama Sanogo and Jordan Hawkins has been sensational averaging nearly 34 points per game. If the shots aren’t falling against the stingy Aztecs’ defense how the pair responds will tell us a lot about whether or not the Huskies can secure the title.

San Diego State vs. UConn Prediction

They were seeded No. 5, but I don’t think many gave SDSU much of a chance to get here. They won a bunch of close games all season, including one-point takedowns of Creighton and FAU to get there. They are battle-tested from a strong mid-major conference and probably feel like they’re playing with house money. With nothing to lose I expect a strong showing from the Aztecs allowing them to stay within the line.

Championship Game Prediction: San Diego State +7.5 / UNDER 132.5

View latest Championship betting odds.

George Newman
George Newman
Covers NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL for George is also an avid sports bettor and daily fantasy sports fan.

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