San Diego State vs. Connecticut Expert Pick and Prediction – April 3, 2023
SAN DIEGO STATE VS. CONNECTICUT EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – April 3, 2023 — The Final Four has been the Connecticut Invitational for years, and this year’s entire tournament has gone the same way. Connecticut owns a 9-1 record at the Final Four after dispatching Miami, and the Huskies have never lost a national championship game. They’ve barely been scratched in this tournament, as they’ve covered all five times they’ve taken the court and won by double digits each time out.
In that sense, this line should be well within reach for Connecticut. But San Diego State excels at hanging around and grinding opponents down. Only Arizona managed to beat the Aztecs by double digits all season long, and San Diego State pulled off an impressive comeback against Florida Atlantic to get to this game.
However, that comes with a caveat: the Aztecs might have used too much energy overcoming the Owls in the second half to have anything left for Connecticut. There’s also the fact that Connecticut is a chameleon, and the Huskies adjust to whatever their opponent likes to do. They wore Miami down and caused the Hurricanes to miss several easy looks, and they kept the Hurricanes off the foul line. If the same repeats here, they’ll be celebrating another national title.
(32-6 SU, 19-16-2 ATS)
(30-8 SU, 26-11-1 ATS)
When: Monday, April 3rd at 9:20 pm EST
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston
Public Bets: 75% on Connecticut
Public Money: 81% on Connecticut
Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of April 3rd, 2023
San Diego State vs. Connecticut In-Season Trends
This might be the biggest issue for San Diego State: Connecticut will have no problem trying to grind this game out. The Huskies have gone UNDER in seven of nine games now and played outstanding defense against Miami. Connecticut ranks in the top 20 in defensive field goal percentage in every category, and the Huskies shored up their one weakness against Miami in keeping the Hurricanes off the foul line.
The Huskies continue to make a lot of money for bettors, as they’ve gone 6-1 SU and ATS in postseason play. They’ve also covered 10 of their past 11 times out, only failing to match their number in a loss to Marquette.
San Diego State ended up with its first OVER of the tournament because of how well Florida Atlantic shot in the first half. The Aztecs tightened up in the second half, but not enough to end their streak of 12 straight games playing to the UNDER. San Diego State has regularly played with low totals in the postseason, holding every foe except Florida Atlantic to 64 points or less. The Aztecs have held their past 16 opponents to 71 or less, dating back to Jan. 31 against Nevada.
Ball screens are the best way to beat San Diego State, so expect Connecticut to look for whoever has the hot hand. Jordan Hawkins has done most of the scoring for the Huskies in this tournament, but Adama Sanogo also possesses the ability to put up points in a hurry. Sanogo came up big against Miami, and with the Aztecs likely to focus on Hawkins, he’ll probably need a big game again.
San Diego State is not an offensive power, which does give the Aztecs one advantage: they go much deeper than Connecticut. If fouls become an issue, as long as Matt Bradley doesn’t get in foul trouble, San Diego State is far more equipped to handle that than Connecticut. Otherwise, this is not a team of shooters; the Aztecs win with defense.
As strong as San Diego State is on defense, the Huskies have played on another level this season. The total keeps rising, but I think that’s an overreaction to the final score of the Florida Atlantic game. The Aztecs aren’t likely to make enough shots to put Connecticut under enough pressure.
This game will likely be a grinder, and Connecticut’s perfectly happy to play that way. San Diego State doesn’t have the shooters needed to hang with the Huskies, which likely leads to a Connecticut cover.