Final Four 2023 picks, predictions against spread: Why UConn, San Diego State are best bets for title game


The 2023 Men’s Basketball Final Four is about the new bloods. Three schools will be making their first Final Four appearance, and a coach will become a first-time national champion at NRG Stadium in Houston on April 3. 

No. 5 San Diego State (31-6) and No. 9 FAU (35-3) meet in the first semifinal at 6:09 p.m. ET. Both schools are making their first Final Four appearance. The Aztecs clinched the South Region with a 57-56 victory against No. 6 Creighton.

San Diego State allows 62.9 points per game under coach Brian Dutcher, and they are the best defensive team left in the tournament. The Owls won the East Region with a 79-76 victory against No. 3 Kansas State in the Elite Eight. Dusty May leads a well-balanced team averaging 78 points per game. 

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The second matchups will feature a matchup between No. 4 UConn (29-8) against No. 5 Miami (29-7). Tipoff is scheduled for 8:49 p.m. The Huskies tore through the West Region and beat opponents by an average of 22.5 points per game, and that included an impressive 82-54 victory against No. 3 Gonzaga. UConn coach Dan Hurley has the program in position to win its fifth national championship. 

The Hurricanes won the Midwest Region with an 88-81 victory against No. 2 Texas. Miami coach Jim Larranaga led the Hurricanes to the Final Four, and the Hurricanes have an experienced roster with playmakers from last year’s team that made the Elite Eight.

Which two teams will advance to Monday’s national championship game? SN takes a closer look: 

Final Four odds 2023

Below are the opening March Madness odds for the Final Four, including point spreads, money lines and over-under totals for each game according to 

San Diego State vs. FAU SDSU -1.5 SDSU -125, FAU +105 131.5
Miami vs. UConn UConn -5.5 UConn -250, Miami +195 149.5

Final Four picks, predictions 

  • No. 5 San Diego State (-1.5) vs. No. 9 FAU 

Saturday, 6:09 p.m., TBS

Both teams are deep and balanced. Seven different players have scored 10 or more points for the Owls in a game during the NCAA Tournament. Guards Johnell Davis (13.9) and Alijah Martin (13.1) are the leading scorers, but Nick Boyd (8.9) and Michael Forrest (8.4) can create mismatches on the perimeter. Vladislav Goldin (10.3)  – a 7-foot-1 center from Nalchick, Russia – has elevated his game in the tournament. He averages 7.8 points and 8.3 rebounds in the tournament.

San Diego State has eight players that average at least six points per game as part of a flexible rotation, and seniors Matt Bradley (12.8) and Darrion Trammel (9.8) can control the tempo. The front-court of Jaedon Ledee (7.9), Keshad Johnson (7.7) and Nathan Mensah (6.1) all average more than five rebounds per game. 

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The Owls have shown a remarkable capability to adjust to different styles in the tournament – and that was apparent in the victories against No. 4 Tennessee and No. 3 Kansas State in the second weekend. Can they do that against the Aztecs? It will start with Goldin maintaining an inside presence against that deep San Diego State front line, and whether or not the 3-pointers fall if FAU goes with four guards. The Aztecs have limited teams to 17% shooting from behind the arc in the tournament. The Owls are shooting 32% from 3-point range in their last four games. That is a key statistic to track. Can Trammel control the tempo against the Owls’ guards? That’s another key in this one. 

The Aztecs have covered in six straight games, and they are 8-0 S/U when favored by seven points or less. The uglier the game, the better for San Diego State.

Final score: San Diego State 70, FAU 66

Saturday, 8:49 p.m., CBS  

UConn has all the right pieces for one of their patented national championship runs. Adama Sanogo – a 6-9 forward – is a dominant force inside with 17.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Guard Jordan Hawkins averages 16.3 points per game – and he is 16 of 31 (51.6%) from 3-point range in the tournament. Guard Tristen Newton (9.9) and forward Alex Karaban (9.5) are capable scorers, and Andre Jackson (6.8) rounds out the starting five. UConn shares the basketball well. The Huskies shot 41.8 % and limited opponents to 27.2% from 3-point range in the tournament, and they excel at winning the rebounding battle. UConn has won its four tournament games by at least 15 points, joining 2004 UConn and 2021 Gonzaga as teams entering the Final Four with four straight blowouts.

MORE: UConn blows out Gonzaga to reach Final Four

Miami — which split the ACC regular-season championship — used the experience from last year’s Elite Eight run to take the next step under Larranaga. Guards Isaiah Wong (16.3) and Jordan Miller (15.1) are great off the dribble, and Norchad Omier (13.3) averages a double-double with 10.1 rebounds per game. Nijel Pack (13.1) — a Kansas State transfer — is yet another scoring option. 

It’s two talented teams playing their best basketball. UConn averages 39.2 rebounds per game, and that battle between Sanogo and Omier will be the focus during the week. Miami does not rely on the 3-pointer, but they are shooting 44% from 3-point range in the tournament. Miller, who had 27 points in the comeback victory against Texas, must match Hawkins, too.

The Hurricanes are 8-3 ATS as an underdog with six victories. That makes them dangerous, but we are going to stick with the red-hot Huskies. Take the over, too. 

Final score: UConn 81, Miami 74

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