It’s been an unpredictable year all season long and the National Championship matchup of San Diego State Vs. UConn perfectly encapsulates that. No one had SDSU penciled in as their potential champion while UConn rounded into elite form at the right time. They are poised to dominate once again as a -7.5 favorite, yet SDSU has found ways to win late. After a dominating high scoring affair in the Final Four, my prediction revolves around the total as points may come at a premium in this matchup.
San Diego State Vs. UConn Prediction
Defense may have been optional in their comeback win against the FAU Owls, but rest assured the Aztecs defense is as formidable as it gets as they rank fourth in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency per Kenpom. They prefer a style of play that bodes well for our under ticket as they will want to grind the game to a halt and force UConn into low quality looks. They mimic that of Virginia, specializing in switching and keeping a hand in the face of the open shooter.
Switching may be a tough task in this matchup as UConn will have a size advantage in the interior. Not just at the start with Sanogo, but with their depth as well when Clingan off the bench. To combat this, we may see SDSU slip underneath screens instead of trailing the side to allow their big man to stay face against Sanogo and Clingan. This will result in an uptick in three-point attempts for the Huskies with space at the perimeter, but I’ll accept that as an easier look in the interior from a switch would be more detrimental for our under.
Another area of intrigue will be the Aztecs ability to generate turnovers. With UConn also playing towards their pace of play, this allows SDSU to buckle down and either face up tight at the perimeter or switch into a zone. UConn prefers to ball handle at a slow pace, relying on halfcourt sets. Even in a more conservative style of play, UConn has a tendency to cough up the ball by averaging 12.9 turnovers per game. Ranking a lowly 228th in the nation per TeamRankings. That number has also ticked up since the Sweet Sixteen, climbing up to 13.3.
Each turnover the Aztecs can generate would do wonders for our under as that would be a lost scoring opportunity for UConn as well as SDSU most likely avoiding quick points in transition with their tendency to set up halfcourt sets. Especially if the turnover is generated in the interior, allowing UConn’s guards to get back and make sure an Aztec does not get behind them. SDSU ranks just a tad above average in generating defensive havoc by forcing 12.8 turnovers per game.
San Diego State Vs. UConn Prediction: Under 132.5
San Diego State Vs. UConn Odds
The public has a tendency to influence line movement in championship type games and this one is no different as they were quick to hammer the Huskies. Oddsmakers opened this as low as -5.5 minutes after their victory over the Hurricanes, quickly being bet up to -7.5 within a half hour. That number is still short of Kenpom’s projections as he has this at -8.5, yet a tad higher than Torvik with him having this pegged at -6.5.
As for the total, oddsmakers believed points would be scored at a moderate pace as they opened the number at 130.5. Bettors were quick to hammer the over, taking the number up to 132.5 as of writing. The public wants to see points being scored in the big game as the over has accounted for 67% of the total ticket handle, yet sharps have been buying back on the steam with 60% of the total money being on the under.
San Diego State Vs. UConn Key Matchups
Jordan Hawkins vs Matt Bradley
While Sanogo and Clingan are poised for big games for UConn with mismatch potential in the interior, the guards may steal the show as Jordan Hawkins and SDSU’s Matt Bradley are set to duke it out.
Matt Bradley is the driving force for the Aztecs offense and has been a near no show since the start of tournament play. That was until the Final Four where he reminded the nation that he is a lethal scoring threat by dropping 21 on the Owls.
Hawkins had a relatively quiet game per his standards yet was announced pregame he has been dealing with flu-like symptoms. With an extra day of rest, Hawkins will look to take command of an offense that has blown out everyone in their path.
Still, both will have to deal with elite defensive pressure who will make it an emphasis to get the ball out of their hands. Neither are known for their facilitating abilities, potentially limiting their scoring potential. That will force secondary scorers to step up to the main stage, potentially slowing down the expected scoring pace. Each team’s ability to limit the opposing star player is a key reason why I think the under will cash in my SDSU Vs. UConn prediction.
Take the under at no lower than 131.5 as both units will look to grind the game to a halt while looking to generate scoring success against two elite defenses. Turnovers may be an issue for UConn, losing out on scoring opportunities and taking precious time off the clock in between buckets.