2023 Final Four Betting: UConn vs. Miami, San Diego State vs. FAU

Written By Eli Hershkovich on April 2, 2023
Final Four Picks

We’ve reached the final two chapters of the 2022-23 college basketball season. The March Madness odds board has only two games left Saturday and the national championship Monday. As disheartening as that may appear to some college basketball bettors, let’s dive into Final Four odds, appraising both key matchups and the individual betting markets. You’ll also find national title odds, along with a variety of legal sportsbook promos, below.

Click on any of the odds to place a wager.

Final Four Odds: National Championship Futures

The 2023 Final Four marks the first occasion in the seeding era that three or more teams — listed with odds of 50-1 or higher entering the NCAA Tournament — are in the national semifinals.

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San Diego State vs. Florida Atlantic Odds

On Thursday morning, a sports betting group steamed this spread up from Aztecs -1.5 to as high as -3.5. Since then, it’s settled back in at -2.5 at most shops — with a bit of vig towards the favorite.

Which Team Wins Perimeter Battle?

In my Final Four stats article, I mentioned Brian Dutcher’s fourth-rated adjusted defensive efficiency (KenPom) is propelled by its ball pressure around the perimeter. San Diego State has surrendered an uncanny 17.0% clip to date in the NCAA Tournament as a result. On the surface, the Owls are, theoretically, primed to deliver a handful of negative variance to that percentage.

Not only has FAU accrued the 25th-best 3-point scoring rate nationally, but it also began to receive some positive regression of its own against K-State. Before the Elite Eight, Dusty May’s squad was shooting a mere 29.1% from behind the arc in the Big Dance.

Historical Context

A deviation of recent outcomes doesn’t always come to fruition. North Carolina’s unanticipated run to last year’s national title game is a prime example. Up until the finale versus Kansas, the Tar Heels yielded a 25.8% 3FG clip in the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Keep in mind, UNC ranked No. 196 in open 3-point rate allowed — in part because of both Armando Bacot‘s role in drop coverage and its porous ball-screen coverage as a whole.

The Aztecs have let up the eighth-fewest open perimeter shots this season (ShotQuality). Darrion Trammell, Lamont Butler, and the rest of their teammates collectively leave little to no airspace to the opponent — especially via off-the-dribble looks. Couple that with FAU amounting 22 turnovers against Kansas State’s ballhawks, and it’s unlikely that Alijah Martin & Co. will rack up an abundance of quality 3-pointers with SDSU also turning opponents over at a fine rate.

What To Expect

In order to attain the opposite result, the Owls must operate at an uptempo pace throughout. Considering the Aztecs’ size advantage around the glass, along with the previously noted variables, it seems unlikely. Don’t forget, SDSU is 7-0 straight up against opponents with a 44.0% 3PA rate or greater (FAU is 44.0) — with an average margin of victory of 10.6 points.

If May’s team dictates the pace, though, the Aztecs’ inability to consistently produce clean half-court shots is a viable concern. That’s especially the case if their leading-scorer Matt Bradley remains a shell of himself.

At the other end, FAU scuffles to defend motion-oriented offenses, which grade out as Dutcher’s most efficient sets in 2022-23. But since I make this spread around SDSU -2.5 or -3, it’s difficult to argue for betting either side in Final Four betting.

Outside Shots Podcast: Final Four Betting Preview

Connecticut vs. Miami (FL) Odds

In late November, I bet the Huskies at +5000 (and some +8000 at books with lower limits) to win the national title. I’ve been as high on Dan Hurley’s team as anyone — even dating back to last season’s futures portfolio. Please excuse my endorsement of Matt Painter in that article.

Is Connecticut Overvalued?

UConn has bullied its opponents in the Big Dance thus far, notching an average margin of victory of 22.5 points. It’s represented the top-rated program across D-I since Feb. 1, too (Bart Torvik) — enough of a sample size to make bettors disregard any notion that the Huskies’ mid-March blitzkrieg (and their 14-0 start) is any sort of a fluke.

Nevertheless, the betting market’s perception of Adama Sanogo & Co. still could have inflated this line a tad. Take the 2019 Auburn Tigers. The market’s evaluation of Bruce Pearl’s fifth-seeded unit is coincidentally similar to the trajectory of the 2023 Miami Hurricanes.

Auburn's OpponentsSpreadResultMiami's OpponentsSpreadResult
12. New Mexico State+5.5W, 78-7712. Drake+2.5W, 63-56
4. Kansas+2W, 89-754. Indiana-1.5W, 85-69
1. North Carolina-5.5W, 97-801. Houston-8W, 89-75
2. Kentucky-4.5W, 77-71 (OT)2. Texas-3.5W, 88-81
1. Virginia-6L, 63-624. UConn-5.5N/A

Their pre-tournament statistical profiles are also eerily indistinguishable, as both teams tallied around 32 rebounds per contest, along with yielding nearly a 45.0% clip from the field.

Jim Larrañaga’s squad is priced at roughly the same number for their Final Four clash with the Huskies. That doesn’t mean bettors should follow this “trend” by any means. But it insinuates that an eventual national champion may be slightly misconstrued by the market leading up to Final Four betting.

The coaching edge between Larrañaga and Hurley is worth noting, too. The ‘Canes are 33-12 against the spread (73.3%) as a ‘dog over the last three seasons, making Larrañaga the most profitable coaching underdog amid that timeframe. Offensively, he coached circles around Kelvin Sampson and Rodney Terry during the last two rounds. Just like Hurley’s team, their squads showcase a top-15 AdjD rating.

Will Pressure Defense Finally Prevail?

The Huskies’ Kryptonite is, unequivocally, offensive miscues. They find themselves owning a bottom-135 turnover rate, lacking a reliable on-ball playmaker down the stretch of games. That has yet to translate into a determining factor in any of their tournament games, because of their dominating performances.

Should the Hurricanes’ ball pressure break through against UConn, they’ll likely generate their fair share of uncontested looks at the rim. Miami manufactured the fifth-highest takeaway percentage in ACC play. Miami’s offense is most efficient at the rim; however, the Huskies elite rim protection doesn’t enable many half-court scoring opportunities at the basket.

UConn also boasts a top-five rating among tournament teams in 3-point attempts allowed. That’s another strength of Miami, as the undersized Nijel Pack, Isaiah Wong, and the rest of the Hurricanes’ floor-spacers collectively provide a top-35 perimeter efficiency (36.9%).

Additionally, Sanogo, freshmen Donovoan Clingan and Alex Karaban, plus the do-it-all Andre Jackson, all represent mammoths on the glass — juxtaposed to the Larrañaga’s small-ball lineup. While Norchad Omier is an underrated rebounder for his 6-foot-7, 248-pound frame, it’s been somewhat neglected that the ‘Canes avoided facing Texas center Dylan Disu (foot) in their Elite Eight tilt.

Ultimately, UConn’s persistence for piling up second-chance shots doesn’t impact its upper-echelon transition defense, either. Hence, Miami’s best chance to cover — or pull off the upset — revolves around turning Jackson & Co. over in the halfcourt.

(Final) Final Four Analysis

Kindred to the other national semifinal matchup, I make this spread roughly the same as the market (UConn -5). This projection doesn’t leave much room for a “valuable” wager on my end — at least currently. More importantly, I won’t hedge my futures plays this round.

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