National Championship Predictions, Picks: How to Bet the UConn vs. Purdue Over/Under

National Championship Predictions, Picks: How to Bet the UConn vs. Purdue Over/Under article feature image

Tyler Schank/NCAA Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Purdue’s Zach Edey.

National Championship Predictions, Picks

Monday, April 8
9:20 p.m. ET
Over 144.5

A national champion will be crowned on Monday, as Purdue and UConn both advanced as No. 1 seeds. The top overall seeds in the NCAA Tournament last met in 2021, when Baylor dismantled Gonzaga in Lucas Oil Stadium.

My pace report was on target for the Final Four, moving my March Madness record to 8-5.

Purdue and UConn will bring two grinding tempos to this game, including half-court sets featuring post play. The Boilermakers and Huskies are each top-15 in Division I in offensive rebounding. Easy put backs at the rim could be the difference when wagering on this total.

First, here's a look at the average possession length on both offense and defense:

UConn and Purdue are outside the top 240 in offensive average possession length, as neither team will rush transition for fast break points.

Purdue has the third-highest frequency of post-up plays, ranking seventh in points per possession. UConn saw plenty of post play throughout the season, ranking 100th in Defensive Efficiency in that area.

The Huskies must have their best game of the season in terms of fouling. UConn is a 142nd at sending opponents to the charity stripe, a key factor against Purdue and center Zach Edey.

If UConn wants to win this game, rim protection is paramount.

Grant Nelson just DROPPED THE HAMMER ON Donovan Clingan🤧🔨🔥

— The Field of 68 (@TheFieldOf68) April 7, 2024

When UConn has the ball, head coach Dan Hurley prefers a heavy dosage of off-ball screens mixed with heavy cuts to the baseline and in the paint. Purdue is outside the top 100 in defending screens and cuts, indicating there will be success for Cam Spencer and Donovan Clingan.

The Huskies are 315th in tempo, with a decline over the past month of the season. UConn hasn't played a game with 70 possessions or more since late January.

Purdue has experienced a more dramatic drop in pace of play over the past dozen games.

Purdue Pace of Play Via Torvik

This game has the potential to be played at the slowest pace of any other March Madness matchup. While that would indicate the under is the direction, there's a case to be made for the over.

Both teams are best in Division I in offensive rebounding, signaling that quick putbacks are in the script. Purdue has one of the highest offensive free-throw rates in the nation, with an added bonus of Edey shooting 71% from the charity stripe.

Neither team specializes in defending what will play out from post-ups to screens.

Despite possessions using the full shot clock, there are avenues for scoring through boards and fouls. KenPom projects the total at 147, in line with the opening market.

Look to take an over on any steam that pushes the total down before tip Monday night.

Pick: Over 144.5

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