The stage has been set for the Final Four, and an unlikely quartet is heading to Houston to compete for the 2023 men’s basketball national championship.
Dan Hurley’s Huskies are the highest seed remaining and the only team with championship pedigree, but even UConn was a No. 4 seed before it won the West Region. UConn demolished the toughest region with four double-digit victories, and is the deserving favorite to cut down the nets on Monday.
But will one of the three Cinderella squads finish the job instead? Miami gets the first crack at UConn, and has experience with knocking off top teams at this point. The fifth-seeded Hurricanes bested Houston in the Sweet 16 before taking down Texas in the Elite Eight to reach their first-ever Final Four.
San Diego State (a No. 5 seed) and Florida Atlantic (No. 9 seed) are also competing in the Final Four for the first time in program history. The Aztecs and Owls will face off in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Final Four odds
San Diego State (-2) vs. Florida Atlantic | Total: 131.5
UConn (-5.5) vs. Miami | Total: 149
Upset pick: Florida Atlantic (+115)
As someone sitting on a 100/1 national championship future on San Diego State, I’m certainly rooting for the Aztecs. But this feels like our best chance at an upset on Saturday, especially given the circumstances.
San Diego State is coming off wins over Alabama and Creighton to get here, and has done an excellent job of limiting explosive offenses. The Aztecs are an elite defense, but they have also been fortunate that their last two opponents combined to go 5-for-44 from long range. If a few more 3-pointers go down, perhaps San Diego State isn’t here.
Dusty May’s Owls are also fortunate to be here after a jump-ball call went their way in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. But let’s not forget they have won a slugfest in this tourney already, earning a 62-55 win over Tennessee in the Sweet 16.
Florida Atlantic will be ready for the challenge on Saturday.
Favorite pick: UConn-Miami Over 149
No team is playing as well as UConn right now. The Huskies have scored 80-plus points in three of their four NCAA Tournament games thus far, with the lone exception being a 70-point effort against a talented defensive team in Saint Mary’s.
Miami’s backcourt has also exploded of late, as the Hurricanes have scored 85 or more points in three consecutive games. Their defense also remains a concern, where they rank 104th in adjusted defensive efficiency.
In a battle between two elite offenses, bet on points being scored in the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader. UConn might very well win, but Miami certainly won’t go away quietly.