Nate’s Way Too Early Final Four Expert Picks
NATE’S WAY TOO EARLY FINAL FOUR EXPERT PICKS – I am absolutely buzzing after this weekend and I cannot wait for Saturday. For those of you who have been reading my articles regularly, you’ll know that I had to say goodbye to my juicy 50/1 bet on Creighton to win it all yesterday.
However, I still have that fun 15/1 ticket on UConn to console me. We’ll be back later in the week with some more detailed analysis, but I wanted to drop in and give y’all some of my initial thoughts on the Final Four games for Saturday.
FAU vs. San Diego State (-2)
I’m not going to bury the lede here: I think the Owls advance to their first Championship game in program history. For a team with one previous appearance in the tournament, this is an absolutely monumental moment for the squad from Boca Raton.
San Diego State was fortunate to move on against Creighton and benefitted from a zillion missed shots from a team that normally shoots it incredibly well. You can call me a conspiracy theorist, but the rims in that game seemed unusually tight and shots bounced off like they were coming off a trampoline.
It was far from ideal for a good jump shooting team like Creighton, but it helped the Aztecs hang around as they muddied up the game and went to work in the paint.
My initial lean is that the FAU Owls have what it takes to finally knock off San Diego State. SDSU has won with gritty defense, size and athleticism. But their scoring droughts leave them vulnerable.
FAU has played nothing but teams that have more talent and size, and yet, they continue to advance. I suspect they will do the same here against SDSU.
A 9 seed.
A home arena with 2,900 seats.
A coach who started as a ball boy.
A mix of high school players, four-year transfers, and JUCO players.
Dusty May says his team isn't a Cinderella.
FAU is just really good at basketball — and headed to their first-ever Final Four. pic.twitter.com/PiWD99gxhP
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) March 26, 2023
FAU can neutralize some of SDSU’s size and athleticism because they have the ability to rotate in a ton of smaller, quick guards. Battling in the paint with San Diego State can be taxing, as Creighton found out in their last game, but I don’t think that’s what FAU will do.
San Diego State has been outstanding in limiting 3-pt. shots throughout the season and in the tournament, but FAU is a different type of beast than Alabama or Creighton.
FAU hasn’t had any trouble moving the ball and getting good looks since their first game, and I don’t anticipate that changing. I think they will use their quickness and fresh legs to keep the Aztecs off-balance in this game.
Get ready for one of the most unlikely Championship appearances in history when the FAU Owls keep dancing after Saturday.
Early Pick: FAU +2
Miami vs. UConn (-5.5)
I am unabashedly a UConn homer right now and I’m incapable of objective analysis for this game.
Miami was lucky to get past the Longhorns in their last game and needed pretty much a total collapse to make that happen. Credit to Miami’s swarming defense and frenetic offensive playmaking to come together at exactly the right time to advance to the Final Four, but I think the run ends here.
UConn is just on a different level and they have been demolishing opponents. They’ve absolutely blown the doors off of every team they’ve faced thus far in the tournament, and they’ve beaten at least one team that is far superior to Miami already.
The Huskies are playing like the best team in the country right now and every metric both offensive and defensive have been elite. Adama Sanogo has been on a different level and his tournament stats bear that out. Meanwhile, Jordan Hawkins is playing like a man absolutely possessed.
— UConn Men's Basketball (@UConnMBB) March 26, 2023
Miami has been a fun story, and beating Houston to advance to the Elite Eight was impressive. But I think their run ends here. Historically, favorites tend to win when it gets down to the nitty gritty of the Final Four and I don’t see UConn slowing down any time soon.
Early Pick: UConn -5.5
I cannot wait for an FAU vs. UConn finale in the matchup that all of us (read: none of us) were expecting a couple of weeks ago when this whole thing got started. This is March Madness.