It has all come down to this with four teams left vying for the national title.
When was the last time there was a more improbable national semifinal than the one on Saturday between Conference USA champion Florida Atlantic and Mountain West champion San Diego State? That will be followed by UConn, the only one of the four teams with previous Final Four experience, meeting up with Miami.
When looking at the March Madness expert picks, San Diego State is a three-point favorite against Florida Atlantic with UConn favored by 5½ points versus Miami.
The March Madness odds list UConn (-130) as the favorite to win the national title followed by San Diego State (+375), Miami (+450) and Florida Atlantic (+600). The UConn duo of Adama Sanogo (+250) and Jordan Hawkins (+325) are the front-runners to be named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
There are always games within the game when it comes to this time of the year so here are some proposition bets to consider from key players from each of the Final Four teams.
NCAA: Final Four Player Props
- Johnell Davis (Florida Atlantic) 13½ points O/U -115/-115
- Matt Bradley (San Diego State) 12½ points O/U -110/-120
- Nijel Pack (Miami) 2½ made 3-pointers O/U +160/-190
- Andre Jackson (UConn) 5½ assists O/U -115/-115
Davis to Find the Range
It could be risky to go with the Florida Atlantic players to go over the total based on how difficult it can be to run an offense against San Diego State.
The first place to look is at Florida Atlantic leading scorer Johnell Davis.
He is averaging 17.3 points in the four games in the NCAA Tournament. However, if you take away the second round game against Fairleigh Dickinson, when he had 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting, that number drops to 13.3 points per game. That is right in line with the 13½-point number set by the March Madness picks for the semifinal.
- Pick: Johnell Davis To Go Over 13½ points (-115)
Time For Bradley To Get Going
Let’s be clear, Matt Bradley has not been impressive on offense since the tournament opener against the College of Charleston when he finished with 17 points.
In the last three games, Bradley finished with 18 points on 6-of-27 shooting.
This is the time for the best players to start playing like the best players, so don’t be surprised to see Bradley look like the top scoring option for San Diego State.
San Diego State is hardly an offensive juggernaut. Among the four remaining teams, the Aztecs lag behind the other three teams in adjusted offensive efficiency according to the Pomeroy college basketball ratings database. The methodical style of play can make it hard to put up gaudy individual statistics. However, Bradley had 23 points in a game against Arkansas earlier this season and 13 more against fellow NCAA Tournament team Saint Mary’s, and that isn’t lost on those who bet online.
Asking him to hit 13 points in the first of the two national semifinals on Saturday doesn’t seem out of the question. With the way San Diego State gets after it on defense, that might be enough for the Aztecs to advance to the title game.
.@Aztec_MBB have been a PROBLEM all #MarchMadness long 🔒
They will look to continue their impressive run in the #MFinalFour 💪 pic.twitter.com/4EFTOqxJo7
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 30, 2023
- Pick: Matt Bradley to go over 12½ points (-110)
Miami’s Pack Mentality
Miami relies on all five starters to have a hand in the offense so that can make things a bit complicated when trying to make sense of the player props for those who bet online to trust.
It should be noted that Miami is 11-2 when guard Nijel Pack makes at least three 3-pointers in a game.
Pack’s 3-point shooting numbers against teams that played in the NCAA Tournament were not the best. However, in the first three games of the tournament, Pack was 12 of 25 from distance. Keep that in mind when looking at the Las Vegas odds heading into the semifinal showdown against Miami’s former Big East rivals.
UConn is not the easiest team to make 3-pointers against. The Huskies give up 4.9 3-pointers per game, and only Hawaii and South Alabama are stingier when it comes to defending against the 3-pointer. UConn is also 12th nationally in 3-point percentage defense.
When looking at the Miami team, Isaiah Wong and Jordan Miller are the defensive game-plan busters and Norchad Omier will attract plenty of attention as the top inside scoring threat for the Hurricanes. That could give Pack and Wooga Poplar a little extra room to operate.
If Pack could hit seven 3-pointers against Houston, is asking him to make three in Saturday’s semifinal too much to ask?
- Pick: Nijel Pack to go over 2½ made 3-pointers (+160)
Lending a Helping Hand
There is not a more polarizing player on the UConn team than Andre Jackson.
UConn fans were not shy about their desire to see him on the court less frequently when the Huskies hit the dog days of January. It is a different story these days. Although he will never be an elite scorer, Jackson nearly had a triple-double in UConn’s dismantling of Gonzaga in the Elite Eight.
Jackson has been an elite disruptor during the tournament with 31 assists and just six turnovers.
This is not the first rodeo for Miami head coach Jim Larranaga. Don’t be surprised if one of the key points of Miami’s defensive game plan will be to make the offense run through another UConn player.
Jackson had 10 assists and no turnovers in the win over Gonzaga and he has had at least seven assists in each of the four tournament games.
It is worth a shot to take Jackson to finish under 5½ assists, the number set by the sportsbook. In the last five games that UConn lost, Jackson finished with nine assists and 10 turnovers.
The best way to slow down an offense that is clicking is to disrupt things from the player who gets the ball to his teammates at the right time and in the proper spots.
- Pick: Andre Jackson To Go Under 5½ assists (-115)