UConn vs. Miami Odds & Picks | How to Bet Saturday’s Final Four Game
Sarah Stier/Getty Images. Pictured: UConn’s Andre Jackson Jr.
UConn vs. Miami Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
As everyone expected, this year’s Final Four will feature the best the C-USA, Mountain West and arguably the ACC had to offer all season.
Saturday’s nightcap is a matchup between Miami and Connecticut.
The Hurricanes have again flipped the switch at the right time. A year removed from a second-half drubbing against Kansas in the Elite Eight, Jim Larranaga has managed to carry his team one step further in 2023.
While Miami has turned it on in the tournament, UConn’s performance is simply a continuation of the dominant form it has shown for most of the season. The Huskies are absolutely littered with “dudes.”
Now, despite dark moments under Kevin Ollie’s tenure, Connecticut enters the weekend as the odds-on favorite to win a fifth title since 1999.
Rarely do we see a Final Four where one team is an odds-on favorite to win the title.
Dan Hurley’s Connecticut Huskies have earned that distinction.
It’s an extremely fair proposition to pose whether a bettor would rather take UConn or the other three remaining teams to win this year’s title.
Although I normally lean towards taking a contrarian perspective in the sports betting landscape, I have seen enough of UConn to place my faith in the Huskies.
Hurley is willing to go deep into his bench and give a full nine players significant minutes. This approach allows UConn to maintain fresh legs and exploit its opponents’ fatigue by pushing the tempo and playing in transition.
Adama Sanogo and Donovan Clingan are true interior forces for the Huskies, which will make it difficult for Miami’s Norchad Omier to guard either effectively without fouling.
Should Omier get into early foul trouble, the result of this game could resemble the UConn/Gonzaga Elite Eight matchup. Gonzaga trailed throughout, in large part due to Drew Timme being forced to spend significant minutes on the bench with foul trouble.
If Miami chooses to pack the paint to focus attention on Sanogo, Hurley has a trio of shooters at the ready for drive and dish 3-point attempts.
San Diego transfer Joey Calcaterra has meshed incredibly well with the youthful backcourt of Jordan Hawkins and Alex Karaban as the team has developed. When two of the three are on the court simultaneously, it presents a daunting challenge for opponents.
Is it better to focus defensively on Sanogo and Clingan on the interior and sag off Calcaterra, Hawkins and Karaban?
Or would the Hurricanes be better served by face-guarding the Huskies’ shooters, potentially leaving them vulnerable to easy post touches and offensive rebounding?
I simply do not believe Miami is equipped to slow the Huskies’ preferred pace and play a low-possession game. Even if Larranaga’s game plan is to avoid an up-tempo game, much of that will be thrown out the window if Miami digs itself in an early hole.
Now, Miami can score as well, which leads me to my official decision and pick.
The ACC endured another lackluster year from top to bottom throughout 2022-2023. Despite the disappointing year for the conference, Miami will represent the ACC just as Duke and North Carolina were able to do last year.
If you are pulling for Miami, I will make the case that one particular asset is in the Hurricanes’ favor. Larranaga is certainly the most experienced coach that will be leading a team in Houston this weekend.
And, for my money, he’s probably the best.
It’s easy to forget how dire things were looking for Miami in both of its contests on the opening weekend of the tournament.
If you don’t recall, Miami trailed Drake by eight with 4:59 remaining in the Round of 64. ESPN’s win probability gave the Canes only a 9.5% chance of winning at that stage.
Then, the Canes were given only a 33% chance of emerging victorious after quickly coughing up their halftime lead against Indiana.
So, what made the difference? There’s an inherent amount of luck that accompanies any extended tournament run. However, luck cannot be the largest contributing factor to this Miami team greatly exceeding postseason expectations in back-to-back years.
Frankly, I think Larranaga has done a masterful job. He’s managed to earn the trust of his players despite being one of the older coaches in the power conferences.
While other notable coaches in his same conference chose to complain about the evolution of college basketball’s landscape, Larranaga adjusted and attracted talent to replace Kam McGusty and Sam Waardenburg.
One of those ACC coaches was forced into retirement. The other will be coaching one of the four remaining teams in this college basketball season.
UConn vs. Miami Betting Pick
Typically, a tournament run such as the one Miami has put together improves a team’s metrics dramatically. Miami’s wins have not been a boon to its defensive efficiency rating.
The Canes’ most impressive defensive effort was in the closing minutes of their Round of 64 win against Drake. Subsequently, the Hurricanes rode a nuclear offense to upset wins over Indiana, Houston and Texas.
I’ll spare you the deep dive into the data supporting the impressiveness of UConn. The Huskies have reached the No. 1 position in KenPom via earning double-digit wins in all four of their NCAA tournament games.
And, as I so marvelously stated previously, the Huskies just have a ton of “dudes.” Usually, they have more dudes than an opponent can effectively handle.
The Huskies have been an unstoppable force of late, with offensive weaponry capable of beating teams from the inside or on the perimeter. Miami does nothing defensively that indicates it will be able to bother UConn in the slightest.
I would be inclined to take the Huskies -5.5 if I had to choose a side, but there’s something scary about this Miami offense. There’s also a widespread belief many seem to have that the Huskies have already started climbing the ladder to cut down the nets.
Both those factors have steered me in a slightly different direction. Rather than simply laying 5.5 points and taking UConn, I will trust its offense to tally 78 or more points — even if Miami is ultimately able to surpass that total itself.
Pick: UConn Team Total Over 77.5 (Play to 79)
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