The NCAA tournament is down to the Final Four, and March Madness is ready to bleed into April for the national championship hunt. Three long shots have made it to Houston for the national semifinals — and then there’s UConn, which takes over as the tournament’s prohibitive favorite.
But nothing in this tournament has gone according to plan, so don’t write the Huskies’ name in pen just yet.
We’ll take a look at the matchup, point spread and over/under for each Final Four game, from Caesars Sportsbook, official odds partner of Bet.NOLA.com, then give you best bets from each of our team members for the weekend in Houston:
Point spread: SDSU -3
Money line: SDSU -150, FAU +130
Being an underdog is nothing new to FAU, which has been favored in just one game this tournament — the second-round victory over No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson, which also happens to be the only time the Owls failed to cover the spread.
In all, the Owls (35-3) are riding an 11-game winning streak. Not surprisingly, this is a well-balanced team that’s good at just about everything: Paint play, 3-point shooting, defending without fouling. They’ve actually made their tournament run with below-average outside shooting, which might be a good thing, because San Diego State has the nation’s second-best 3-point defense.
The Aztecs’ bruising defense is their calling card. They make opponents use an average of 18.5 seconds per possessions, one of the longest numbers in the country. Combined with their own slow-paced offense, this team plays low-scoring games, hence the low total.
On an individual level, Matt Bradley is the only SDSU player who averages double-figure scoring at 12.5 points per game. For FAU, keep an eye on guards Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin, who both average better than 13 points per game and shoot better than 37% from 3. They’ll need to hit shots to out-pace the Aztecs.
Point spread: UConn -5½
Money line: UConn -250, Miami +205
The Huskies have blitzed teams in this tournament, winning all four games by at least 15 points and by an average of 22.5. Miami, on the other hand, won as a short favorite against No. 12 seed Drake and then three times as an underdog — all of the wins relatively easy as well.
So can the Hurricanes pull off another stunner? They certainly have the offensive firepower to keep up, but questions about their inside defense against the likes of UConn star forward Adama Sanogo (63.4% from 2-point range this season) is a question mark.
Another interesting fact: UConn is just 1-5 in games decided by 6 points or fewer. Part of that could be bad luck, but it makes sense a team whose stars are not its ball-handlers would have trouble closing games. If you buy into that theory, UConn could certainly cover the 5½-point number and win easily, but if you like Miami, the money line may be worth betting instead of the spread.
The Bayou Bets team each made one best bet for the weekend. Here they are:
ZOE COLLINS RATH
San Diego State -3 vs. FAU
UConn/San Diego State money-line parlay (+128)
Miami money line over UConn (+205)
UConn -5.5 vs. Miami
FAU-San Diego State UNDER 131½
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