The final net of the men’s college hoops season gets cut down on Monday night. Based on the odds, it’s unlikely that most bettors had this matchup on their bet slips.
Yet, here we are.
The San Diego State Aztecs (32-6) will battle the UConn Huskies (30-8) in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament national championship game in Houston.
The Huskies are seeking their fifth national title in men’s basketball and first since 2014, while the Aztecs are one win away from the school’s first national title — in men’s or women’s basketball.
No matter who wins, tonight is the last chance of the season for college basketball bettors to get in on the action at FOX Bet.
To give those gamblers some insights on the game, FOX Sports’ betting experts Chris “The Bear” Fallica, Sam “Sammy P” Panayotovich, Jason McIntyre and Geoff Schwartz are here with their insights and picks. Let’s dive into how they are wagering on the big game.
TITLE GAME ODDS
No. 5 San Diego State vs. No. 4 UConn (9:20 p.m. ET, CBS)
Point spread: UConn -7.5 (UConn favored to win by more than 7.5 points, otherwise San Diego State covers)
Moneyline: UConn -345 favorite to win (bet $10 to win $12.90 total); San Diego State +250 underdog to win (bet $10 to win $35 total)
Total scoring over/under: 132.5 points scored by both teams combined
CHRIS ‘THE BEAR’ FALLICA
First, I just want to remind people that Connecticut had the same Big East record as Providence (13-7, tied for fourth). Yeah, amazing, isn’t it? I’m not gonna be the one to say run out and bet Connecticut on the moneyline (-345 at FOX Bet, bet $10 to win $12.90 total), but I certainly expect the Huskies to win the game.
However, laying north of seven points seems a bit risky, even with Connecticut being the most dominant team in the tourney so far.
Since 1985, there have been just seven title games with a spread of seven points or more, and those favorites have gone just 2-5 against the spread (ATS), with three losing straight up (SU).
While I don’t expect the Huskies to lose, I’m not sure I want to lay the points. I actually expect this game to be close at halftime, and think a halftime bet on the Huskies is probably the best bet one can make.
So, in terms of pregame wagers, I like the Aztecs +4.5 points and Under 61 combined points in the first half.
San Diego State trailed at halftime in its past two games and allowed opponents to shoot 54%. The Aztecs have tightened things up in the second half, but I can really see them trying to slow the tempo down and playing the type of defense they did in the second half against Creighton and Florida Atlantic from the tip Monday.
If they don’t, it will be a long night for them. But I’d wait a little bit and see if you can get a +5 or 61.5 because I don’t anticipate the numbers to drop.
PICK: Under 61 points scored combined in first half at FOX Bet
PICK: San Diego State (+4.5 first half at FOX Bet) to trail by 4.5 points or fewer (or lead outright) at halftime
SAM ‘SAMMY P’ PANAYOTOVICH
I haven’t stepped in front of UConn in this tournament yet, and I don’t really want to start now. The spread is a little heavy, but trust me, there’s not much of an appetite to bet against the Huskies over here.
They’ve been destroying teams.
Victories by 24, 15, 23, 28 and 13 points — not to mention five straight covers — are proof that UConn can get up big and step on your neck. This run reminds me a lot of North Carolina in 2009 when the Tar Heels just clobbered every team in sight. Blake Griffin and the Oklahoma Sooners gave UNC the biggest “scare” in the Elite Eight and still lost by 12 points.
Fast forwarding to Monday night, UConn is a 7.5-point favorite against San Diego State at most sportsbooks, with a total that’s been bet up on the Over/Under from 130.5 to 132.5. I always respect movement like that out of the gate, but this game still has all the makings of a physical battle on both ends.
Both squads play suffocating defense, and the best part about San Diego State’s style is that the Aztecs retreat on offensive misses. They don’t send multiple guys to the offensive glass, which, in turn, slows transition opportunities the other way.
There’s a reason Brian Dutcher’s club rattled off 12 straight Unders before Saturday’s Over against Florida Atlantic.
San Diego State has held its five tournament opponents to a collective 60 points per game, while UConn is a smidge lower at 59.2. If these defenses play the way they’re used to playing as of late, I think the title game finishes around 66-58.
It’s been a nice little 10-6 run for us in March Madness, and I’m more than OK betting on elite defenses and taking a shot on the Under.
PICK: Under 132.5 points scored by both teams combined at FOX Bet
Connecticut is going to beat San Diego State by double digits, and I’m giving us permission to admit this before tip off tonight. I know it’s more fun to watch a close game, and the underdog Aztecs are a wonderful story, but those stories tend to end against an opponent like the Huskies.
UConn entered the postseason ranked fourth in KenPom and has not lost a game outside the Big East this season. The team went undefeated in non-conference play, and we know the Huskies haven’t lost in the last three weeks. They’ve won all five tournament games by at least double digits with an average margin of victory of 18.6 points. Their offense is built like that of an NBA team. They shoot threes or make attempts at the rim.
While San Diego State is a prolific defensive team around the rim, I’m not sure the Aztecs have enough defense to stop both the ways the Huskies can score. The Aztecs offensively are ranked 68th in the country entering this game, and that’s just not good enough against the eighth-ranked Huskies defense. San Diego State also struggles at times to make their foul shots, and that should concern Aztecs ticket holders.
I’ll keep it simple and lay the points with the Huskies here.
PICK: UConn (-7.5 at FOX Bet) to win by more than 7.5 points
The Aztecs won at the buzzer against Florida Atlantic, a game they trailed for about 28 straight minutes until Lamont Butler hit the game-winning shot.
The Aztecs (32-6) have beaten great offensive teams (Alabama), top defensive teams (Creighton), and four of their five NCAA Men’s Tournament wins are by seven points or fewer.
UConn, meanwhile, is entering historic territory, blowing out everyone in its path. The only kryptonite for the Huskies (30-8) is playing close games.
They’re 1-5 in games decided by six points or fewer. How do you get them in a close game? Marquette got them twice and Xavier once, and the common denominator in those statistical profiles is having a top-10 offense.
San Diego State is not a strong offensive team despite scoring 72 points against FAU and 71 against Alabama. They want to play formidable defense on the perimeter, pound the ball inside after draining the shot clock and crash the offensive boards.
The Huskies are better at all three of those aspects, having hit nine or more 3-pointers in every tournament game and dominating the interior with Adama Sanogo (21 points, 10 rebounds vs. Miami). Behind him is 7-foot-2 freshman Donovan Clingan, should fouls become an issue.
If I were defending UConn, the guy I’d want to remove is Jordan Hawkins, their most talented player and the only potential lottery pick on the roster. His 3-point ability helps open up Sanogo inside. Marquette held Hawkins to five points in one win over the Huskies; he had eight points in another loss.
Matt Bradley is the man for the job. A 23-year-old guard in his fifth season, he’s excellent defensively, and they’ve proven they can win without him scoring (see Creighton and Alabama).
A way to bet that is to take Bradley under 12.5 points, as he’ll be doing heavy lifting defensively, and the potential for foul trouble is high, even though he’s only fouled out of one game in the past two seasons.
A player prop on SDSU I’ll be watching is point guard Darrion Trammell to go over 9.5 points. Quick point guards have given the Huskies problems this season, and the volume of shots should be there for Trammell, who was instrumental in the win over Alabama (and Creighton, too).
If this game is in the 70s, SDSU will be in trouble. I lean towards the Over 132.5 combined points scored (at FOX Bet). There are plenty of ways to attack the game if you don’t want to lay 7.5 points in the title game.
PICK: Over 132.5 points scored by both teams combined at FOX Bet
PICK: Teaser: UConn -2 and Over 127 combined points
Looking to bet on the big game? Be sure to head over to FOX Bet to get in on tonight’s betting action for the championship game!
Top Gambling Stories
- 2023 NCAA championship game SDSU vs. UConn betting preview: Big, sharp bets
- 2023 Men’s NCAA Championship Game lines: UConn vs. San Diego State odds
- 2023 NFL Draft odds: Best early bets, from Jalen Carter to Quentin Johnston
- 2023 MLB odds: Best win total, division bets, long-shot, title futures, expert picks
- Mattress Mack bets big again on Houston Astros to win MLB World Series
- NFL odds on Lamar Jackson’s next team, including Colts, Patriots, Falcons
- 2023 NCAA odds: San Diego State buzzer-beater costly for FAU title, moneyline bettors
- 2023 MLB MVP odds, sleeper, long-shot bets, expert picks
Play FOX Super 6 every week for your chance to win thousands of dollars every week. Just download the Super 6 app and make your picks today!
Get more from College Basketball Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more