The Final Four is here and it is one of the more interesting Final Four’s in the sport’s history. UConn is the favorite and for good reason, as they have dominated throughout the Tournament. Meanwhile, we have not one, not two, but three teams making their Final Four debut in Florida Atlantic, Miami, and San Diego State. The first game is a matchup of differing styles, Florida Atlantic vs grit, San Diego State. The second, is a matchup of elite guard play, Miami vs the team with everything else, UConn. Certainly, these aren’t the matchups we all expected but this should be a great Final Four.
#5 San Diego State Aztecs (-2.5) vs #9 Florida Atlantic Owls
6:09 PM ET on CBS
Two first-time Final Four participants face off with a chance to play for a National Championship, this is a true underdog vs underdog story with these two facing off. The Owls play a fun brand of basketball and that has led them to making history. Dusty May’s team plays 4-around-1, they have elite guard play with Davis and Martin, plus a high-level big man in Vlad Goldin. San Diego State has gotten here on the back of elite defense as they shut down offensive juggernauts Alabama and Creighton en route to the Final Four. The Aztecs have an elite interior force in Nathan Mensah, good wing defenders, and big shot makers in Bradley and Trammell.
Florida Atlantic has faced a little bit of everything on the way to the Final Four and for this aspect, Tennessee is the best comparison. The Owls have been hard to keep down but San Diego State is built to do just that. The question is whether they can win playing a low-possession, defensive battle. Thus far everyone has been forced to play the Aztecs way and that won’t change in Houston. Florida Atlantic can win playing that way but it is not a style that will favor them. I just think the Aztecs will grit out another win and head to the title game for the first time in program history.
ATS Pick: San Diego State -2.5
Pick: San Diego State 64 Florida Atlantic 58
#4 UConn Huskies (-5) vs #5 Miami Hurricanes
8:49 ET on CBS
This is the more anticipated Final Four matchup as the Tournament favorite UConn takes on the giant killer, Miami. The Huskies have dominated everyone along the way, the depth of scoring, length, and defense has been on full display as they’ve been the best team in the Tournament thus far. Sanogo dominates the post, the potentially ill Jordan Hawkins has drilled threes at will, while the Huskies have a plethora of offensive options. Miami has knocked off some great teams en route to their first Final Four, as they took out betting favorite Houston and Texas in a three-day span. The Hurricanes have the best backcourt left, Isaiah Wong and Nijel Pack are an elite guard combination, while Jordan Miller and Norchad Omier make up an undersized but talented frontcourt.
Miami has a simple strategy to win this game, they have to hit tough shots and they have to get stops. They did it against Houston and they did it against Texas, UConn may be better than both but those expecting Miami to roll over and take a blowout loss haven’t watched Miami play. UConn will need to play a good game to win this one, they need Hawkins, Newton, and Cariban to make jumpers, they need Sanogo to dominate inside and they need bench help. This screams Classic Final Four game, with it coming down to the last few possessions, I will take UConn but in a game that comes down to them getting a big stop to seal it away.
ATS Pick: Miami +5
Pick: UConn 76 Miami 73