NCAA Tournament Championship Game Selection: San Diego State vs. UConn

There is live telecast of athletics UConn vs. San Diego State In National Championship.

It’s hard to believe, but there is only one game left in this 2022-23 college basketball season. It’s been a fun, bumpy ride, but we have an amazing fit to get us through the finish line. And I still have a chance to finish over .500 against the spread for the 2023 Men’s NCAA Tournament.

So let me give you my glowing prediction. Enjoy tonight’s game everyone and thanks for riding along with me all season.

2023 NCAA Tournament: 33-33
2022-23 Regular Season: 45-30

Tonight’s lineup is via BetMGM.

No. 4 UConn (-7 1/2) vs. No. 5 at San Diego State, 9:20 p.m. ET, CBS. Miami is a good basketball team, but for most of Saturday night, UConn made the Hurricanes look positive. The Huskies jumped out to a 14-4 lead (courtesy of two 3-pointers by 6-9 junior forward Adama Sanoko), led by 13 at halftime, and extended their lead to 20 early in the second half, except for one short period. Miami closed within eight and was never threatened en route to a 72-59 yawn.

That was impressive enough, but that’s especially true when you consider that the Huskies didn’t even have a game of their own. Their best player, Jordan Hawkins, had a stomach bug that limited him to 13 points. Their best playmaker and glue guy, Andre Jackson Jr., got into foul trouble early in the first half and had six points and four assists in 22 minutes. Eight of UConn’s rotation players scored, led by Sanoko’s 21 points and 10 rebounds. By the time the championship game begins, Hawkins will have had 48 hours to rest and recover, Jackson will be eager to use his mulligan and the rest of the Huskies will be confident knowing they were able to contribute on the biggest stage. When their team needed it most.

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This tournament is just an extension of what UConn has been doing throughout the tournament. Each of the Huskies’ five wins have come in double digits. They beat a good Gonzaga team by 28 points in the Elite Eight. They have everything a team needs to win a national championship – shooting, size, speed, athleticism, deep rebounding, efficient defense, the ability to score inside and outside and the ability to play in the half court or in transition. And they have a tough-minded head coach from basketball royalty.

San Diego State, meanwhile, has won each of its last two games by one point, including Saturday’s dramatic victory over Florida Atlantic that came courtesy of Lamont Butler’s game-winner. The Aztecs play terrific defense — they’re ranked No. 4 nationally in adjusted efficiency per KenPom — but they showed some vulnerability against FAU. The Aztecs came into the semifinals holding opponents to 17 percent 3-point shooting in the contest, but the Owls hit 41 percent of their 22 attempts and scored 71 points. SDSU had one more rebound despite the Owls being ranked 328th in KenPom. UConn ranks 28th in rebounding, and the Huskies are 2nd in the nation in offensive rebound percentage. So that’s another area where the Aztecs are used to dominating, but will be playing even (or maybe at a disadvantage) tonight.

There are two ways San Diego State can pull off this upset. First we need to make it a half court affair. It is very reliable. The Aztecs averaged just 10.0 turnovers in the contest and held their opponents to 60.0 points per game. When setting the pace, the team that wants to play slower will always have an advantage over the team that wants to play faster. If nothing else, it should be a reason to believe that San Diego State can be close enough to cover this sizable point spread. UConn is clearly the better team, but 7 1/2 points is a lot of wood to put in the national championship game.

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Another way San Diego State can win is by shooting the lights out from 3-point range. It’s unbelievable. The Aztecs are averaging 19.9 3-point attempts this season, which ranks 264th in the nation, and in the contest, they are making 33.3 percent as a team. Their leading man, 6-4 senior guard Matt Bradley, finally broke out of his slump for 21 points on 4 of 8 3-point shooting Saturday night, but he’s going to face one of the best perimeter defenders in the country tonight. in Jackson. No doubt UConn coach Don Hurley will tell Jackson it’s his job to make sure Bradley doesn’t get clean looks, thereby forcing the rest of the Aztecs to compensate. Those guys sometimes (especially Butler and 5-10 senior guard Darian Trammell), but to win a national championship, your best players need to be great. Jackson will make sure Bradley isn’t at his best.

Of course, there are plenty of reasons for San Diego State to be in this game. However, just like Saturday night in Miami, the Aztecs will find themselves overwhelmed by a superior opponent who will be performing at maximum capacity. We can look for ways for San Diego State to win this game, or at least keep it close, but we have to look deep into the dirt when the forest is telling us something obvious. UConn would control the game, knock down the necessary free throws, put it away, and win by double digits to secure the school’s fifth NCAA Championship. Selection: Yukon

(Photo by Matt Bradley: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

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