Monday’s Top Pick
NCAAB Pick: Under 132.5 (-108) at FanDuel
The Under is clearly the right choice for your March Madness picks when San Diego State and UConn meet for the National Championship on Monday night.
Monday, April 03, 2023 – 09:20 PM EDT at NRG Stadium
Everything went according to plan during the Final Four round – almost. We nailed both the Over and Florida Atlantic +1.5 in Saturday’s opener, which San Diego State won 72-71; we also had the Under in our college basketball picks for Miami-UConn, but the Hurricanes (+6 at the close) failed to cover in their 72-59 loss.
The totals were the focus of our March Madness picks, so that’s where the bigger bets were, with just a slight lean towards the Final Four underdogs. Without even looking at the participants, we’d probably recommend the same bet sizes for Monday’s final – with the Under as the generic value pick against the total.
Value On the Faves
Things are a bit different this year. The Huskies are on such a roll, they’re too good to fade as 7-point favorites on the NCAAB odds board at Caesars Sportsbook; the early consensus reports at OddsTrader show 73% support for UConn as we go to press.
We’re still recommending just a slight lean on the favorites ATS. Under 132.5 at FanDuel is where the real value is, even more so with that -108 deal on juice.
Why Bet the Under?
There’s a multitude of reasons. We discussed some of them in our Miami-UConn preview, as well as our Final Four player props piece, where we correctly picked UConn’s Jordan Hawkins to score Under 16.5 points – he finished with 13.
The simplest reason is that it’s the National Championship Game, where the betting public’s influence on the college basketball lines will reach its crescendo. Casual fans want to see buckets, so they tend to bet the Over no matter what totals get posted, leaving ample value on the other side.
Both these teams will do their part. San Diego State ranks fourth overall in defensive efficiency according to Ken Pomeroy’s advanced stats, and just No. 68 on offense; Connecticut has a more balanced team at No. 8 on defense and No. 3 on offense, but they can really put the clamps down on their opponents, as Miami discovered in the semifinals.
San Diego State and UConn also work at a slow pace compared to your average Division I team. SDSU is the slower of the two at 65.6 possessions per game (No. 270), using Pomeroy’s Adjusted Tempo metric, while the Huskies get in 66.5 possessions (No. 214).
You couldn’t ask for much more with this pick than what San Diego State (Under 22-15) brings to the table – even if the Over was the right choice against Florida Atlantic, whose profile naturally skewed more towards the Over than Connecticut’s does.
As for the Huskies, they’re still technically an Over team at 20-18, but the Under is 5-2 in their seven postseason games, including both the Elite Eight and Final Four rounds. They’re building big leads on their opponents and wisely dribbling the clock out in the waning minutes.
Why Not Bet More on UConn?
The Huskies may be 5-0 ATS at the Big Dance, but those impressive victories make it harder for them to beat the expectations of the betting public. Seven points is a very high spread for Monday’s final when you consider the Hurricanes were +6 in a game with a 148.5-point total.
San Diego State also have that mid-major betting value that old-school handicappers crave. Pomeroy ranks SDSU at No. 14 overall in efficiency, well behind No. 1 Connecticut, but also well ahead of No. 24 Miami.
Let the Public Inflate the Total
For that matter, San Diego State had a tougher semifinal opponent in No. 17 Florida Atlantic, another strong mid-major overlooked by the betting public. Factor in how little attention casual fans pay to defense, and you can see why SDSU would normally be the right pick from an old-school perspective.
The fact that we’re leaning towards UConn instead speaks to their outstanding level of play at this Tournament. If you’re really keen on picking a side in Monday’s game, the Huskies are the smart choice, but don’t bet anything more than a token amount given the tiny potential profit margin here.
Save that money for investing on the Under. This should be worth the standard single unit of your bankroll in our estimation; for even more value, consider waiting until closer to tip-off for a better price, and most of all, enjoy the game.
NCAAB Pick: UConn -7 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook