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National Title SDSU-UConn: Preview, Trends & Prediction

The fourth-seeded UConn Huskies are well aware they enter Monday’s national title game as heavy favorites against the fifth-seeded San Diego State Aztecs.

UConn was a consensus 7.5-point favorite as of Monday, which has served as a word of warning from coach Dan Hurley to his players leading up to the game. He has added to that message with a reminder that the Huskies dropped six of eight games after opening this season 14-0.

Still, it can’t be ignored that while SDSU has won several tight games to reach Monday night’s final – including a buzzer-beater against Florida Atlantic on Saturday – UConn has blitzed its way here with five consecutive double-digit beat downs. “The heavy favorites haven’t fared very well in this one,” Hurley said. “So we’re just going to try to ignore that tag. I just think it helps us a lot just what we went through in January. We know that if we get away from our identity for a tick, we become very vulnerable.”The line opened at 6.5 points at BetMGM but shifted by a full point as the public backed the Huskies with 68 percent of the spread-line bets and 81 percent of the money. Of note, SDSU’s +300 moneyline has been the most popular title game wager at the sportsbook, drawing 62 percent of the total bets.

The action has been very similar at BetRivers, where UConn has drawn 61 percent of both the total bets and money. The Huskies’ -360 moneyline has been even more popular at the sportsbook, having been backed by 75 and 86 percent, respectively The line has held steady at 7.5 at PointsBet, with the Huskies supported by 61 percent of the bets and 68 percent of the money. After opening the tournament at +1600 to win the title, UConn is now -365 at DraftKings, while SDSU has moved from +3500 pre-tournament to +300 on Monday.

If the Huskies win Monday night, it will mark the fifth national title in program history. That would match Duke and Indiana for the fourth most in NCAA Tournament history behind UCLA (11), Kentucky (eight) and North Carolina (six). What UConn did in stifling Gonzaga and Miami, top-six ranked offenses according to ratings, should not be discounted in any analysis of their title odds. The Huskies held the Bulldogs and Hurricanes to a combined 32.8 percent shooting, and their defensive preparation for the Aztecs (32-6) is foremost in their minds. San Diego State is physical and determined, and UConn is well aware.

“I would say guarding the ball one-on-one and being able to guard the ball screens,” Huskies junior guard Andre Jackson Jr. said. “And the way they’re going to be ducking in our bigs, making sure we cut off those drives and not let them get points at the rim, also keeping them off the offensive glass and defense rebound the ball.” The Huskies are third in offensive efficiency, according to KenPom. With a multitude of shooters around Adama Sanogo and guards capable of attacking the rim and forcing defenses to collapse, UConn could serve as a stern test for the Aztecs. San Diego State’s brute force and deep collection of grizzled seniors complement its exacting defensive prep.

“Obviously we have to control them in transition,” Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher said. “They’re as good a 3-point shooting team in transition that we’ve played all year. “And the 3-point shot … it’s such a weapon. We have to take way transition threes. We have to do a good job in the low post on Sanogo. He’s strong and tough.” The combination of UConn’s stifling defense and efficient offense has led to fairly low Over/Under markets at sportsbooks.

The line did increase two points to 132.5 at BetMGM, where the Over has been backed by 78 percent of the bets and 84 percent of the money. The same total at BetRivers has seen the Over draw 84 and 65 percent of the action, respectively.

PREDICTION SDSU’s mental fortitude has been tested time and again throughout the tournament, and the Aztecs have risen to every occasion. UConn won’t find this one another walk in the park and it should be an entertaining game. But the Huskies have resoundingly shown why they reached No. 1 in the nation earlier this season with a long, athletic and well-balanced approach on both sides of the floor.

–UConn 72, SDSU 65

–Field Level Media


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