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NCAA title game: Purdue-UConn Preview, Props & Trends

The 2024 NCAA Tournament dominated by two big men comes to a conclusion with Monday night’s national title game between No. 1 overall seed UConn and fellow No. 1 seed Purdue in Glendale, Ariz.



UConn is one win away from becoming the first team to repeat a national championship since Florida in 2006 and 2007, while Purdue seeks its first national title.



TRENDING


The Huskies opened as a 5.5-point favorite at BetMGM, with the line shifting to 7.5 by Monday morning, with the public backing UConn with 73 percent of the spread-line money. However, the Boilermakers have been a popular moneyline play at +250, drawing 56 percent of the money and 69 percent of the total bets.


The line is 6.5 points at DraftKings, where Purdue’s moneyline is +240 compared to UConn at -298 and the Over/Under was sitting at 145 total points on Monday.


The Over on 145.5 points has drawn 62 percent of the bets at BetMGM, where the market opened at 148.5 points.



THINKING BIG


The obvious matchup to watch is UConn’s 7-foot-2 center Donovan Clingan against 7-4 Purdue star Zach Edey, the two-time college basketball player of the year. Clingan is likely the best center Edey will face this season.


“He does a lot of the things that don’t get appreciated about big men. Like he has good hands, he has (a good motor), like he plays hard,” Edey said of Clingan on Sunday. “He’s physical. Some stuff that a lot of people don’t notice about big men, he’s pretty good at.”


Clingan, a sophomore, looked forward to facing senior Edey when asked about it right after UConn’s 86-72 win over Alabama in the Final Four on Saturday.


“I’m real excited. You play at this level to play big-time matchups, big-time games. I have a lot of respect for Zach Edey. He’s a great player,” Clingan said.


Clingan had 18 points, five boards and four blocks for the Huskies (36-3) against Alabama, while freshman Stephon Castle led UConn with 21 points.


Edey, meanwhile, is the first player in NCAA Tournament history to have six straight games with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. He posted 20 and 12 for the Boilermakers (34-4) when they defeated North Carolina State 63-50 in the Final Four. Lance Jones (14 points) and Fletcher Loyer (11) combined to shoot 7-for-14 from 3-point range.



PROP PICK


Zach Edey Over 12.5 Rebounds (-120 at BetMGM): This has been the most wagered-on player prop at the book. Edey is averaging 12.2 rebounds per game on the season and has topped that mark in all but one of Purdue’s first five games of the tournament. That came against NC State on Saturday when Edey had 12 boards. He averaged 16.25 through the Boilermakers’ first four tournament games.



OLD VS. NEW


The Huskies will play in their sixth national championship game since 1999 — the most of any team — and are the first team since North Carolina (2016, 2017) to play in back-to-back title games. UConn has never lost a national championship game in five previous appearances.


“The feeling just with the group is it’s body blows, it’s body blows, it’s continue to guard, continue to rebound, execute our offense,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “Eventually there will be a breaking point opportunity that will present itself, especially in this tournament. For us, we have just played so well.”


Purdue is going for its first national title. The Boilermakers are 10-0 against nationally-ranked teams this season, including a 92-84 win over then-No. 1 Arizona on Dec. 16 in Indianapolis.



KEY STAT


UConn is 33-0 when leading at halftime and when it’s scored at least 70 points in a game. The Huskies won their first five tournament games by an average of 25 points.



THEY SAID IT


“You have to be on your Ps and Qs. You gotta take care of the basketball. You gotta be able to rebound, be good in transition. If you take bad shots and you turn the ball over, you’re in deep trouble. It’s a quick two or a quick three for them. They’re probably the best I’ve seen in a long, long time in being able to take your mistake and make you pay for it at times when you make mistakes.” — Purdue coach Matt Painter, on how he intends to “steal a couple of things” from what UConn does to enhance his program after this season.



–Field Level Media



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