UConn Eyeing First National Title Since 2014
Most years, a national semifinal between a No. 4 seed and a No. 5 seed would be considered the upset-filled portion of the bracket. However, in a topsy-turvy 2023 tournament, this is actually the clash of the heavyweights.
UConn is the only one of the four teams in the Final Four that has made it this far. Miami reached the regionals five times and didn’t win its first game in the NCAA tournament until 1999.
UConn didn’t break through and reach its first Final Four until its 10th trip to the regionals. Since then, it has been a regular part of the Huskies’ spring plans with this being the sixth trip to the Final Four since winning the first of the program’s four national titles in 1999.
Miami has been listed as the underdog in each of the last three games and that didn’t stop the Hurricanes from eliminating Indiana, top-seeded Houston, and Texas.
UConn posted double-digit wins in each of the four tournament games and that blowout of perennial title contender Gonzaga was something to behold.
UConn and Miami come in third and fifth in adjusted offensive efficiency according to the Pomeroy college basketball ratings database. The big difference is on the other end of the court. The Huskies are 11th in defensive efficiency and Miami comes in at No. 104.
When it comes to the college basketball news, both teams are in a pretty good place from an injury standpoint. Freshman guard Christian Watson has played in one game since the start of February for Miami. However, the top eight players have combined to miss just two games this season.
For UConn, sophomore forward Samson Johnson missed much of the regular season. The nine players to average more than 10 minutes per game have combined to miss nine games.
Neither team was ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 poll when the season started. However, UConn is 10th and Miami’s 16th in the most recent poll.
According to the odds to win March Madness, UConn (-130) is the front-runner in the odds to win the NCAA Tournament. Miami is priced at +450 in the championship odds.
Also check on these NCAAB betting lines.
Thriving as Underdog
Miami came up with the “Don’t Pick Us” tag and that seems to be fine with plenty of those who bet online with UConn viewed as the overwhelming favorite to win the national title.
The Hurricanes have shown the ability to play to the level of the competition. That has led to some surprising losses, but also some impressive wins. Miami took out No. 4 seed Indiana, No. 1 Houston and No. 2 Texas to win the Midwest Region.
They have done it on the backs of the starting five.
Isaiah Wong, Jordan Miller, Norchad Omier, Nijel Pack and Wooga Poplar have combined for 90% of Miami’s points in the last three games and 93% in the wins over Houston and Texas.
Miami’s starting five can play with anybody. There are concerns about the depth as UConn can roll out nine players.
Omier will need to stay out of foul trouble against UConn’s post duo of Adama Sanogo and Donovan Clingan.
Miami has covered against the college basketball lines in four of its last five games.
UConn Rolling to Final Four
It would be hard to recall a more dominant run to the Final Four than the one that UConn embarked on, at least for a team-seeded fourth.
The Huskies have led by as many as 10 points for 78% of the minutes in the second half in the four tournament games.
Since the 1993 tournament, UConn is the 17th team to reach the Final Four with all double-digit point victories.
Only Kentucky in 1993 and 1997, Duke in 1999, North Carolina in 2008 and Gonzaga in 2021 had a larger point differential than UConn’s mark of 90 heading into the national semifinals. UConn fans won’t be happy to hear that among the group, only the 1997 Kentucky team won the national title. Just six of those previous 16 teams to win the first four games by 10 points or more ended up cutting down the nets at the end of the season.
Sanogo is priced at +250 and Hawkins at +325 in the odds to be named the Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA tournament.
Adama Sanogo (20 points, 9.8 rebounds) and Jordan Hawkins (17.3 points, 16 of 31 from 3-point range) have led the way. Hawkins had 44 points in nine 3-pointers in the two regional games.
— UConn Men’s Basketball (@UConnMBB) March 26, 2023
Andre Jackson has 31 assists and six turnovers and he is one of six other players with 24-31 points in the tournament.
The Huskies have covered against the Las Vegas odds in nine of their last 10 games.
Miami vs UConn Game Injuries
Miami vs UConn Head-to-Head
Miami and UConn have played 25 times, most of those occurred when they were Big East rivals. UConn has won 17 of those games.
The most recent meeting came on Nov. 24, 2019 the Charleston Classic with UConn rolling to the 80-55 win. The Huskies were a 1½-point favorite in the game and the contest fell under the 145-point total.
Miami vs UConn Game Information
- Game: Miami (29-7) vs UConn(29-8)
- Location: NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
- Day/Time: Saturday, April 1, 8:49 p.m. ET
- Miami vs UConn Live stream: TBS.com
Miami vs UConn Betting Lines
Miami vs UConn Picks and Prediction
Miami managed to hold up well against Indiana as dominant post player Trayce Jackson-Davis finished with 23 points, but took just 10 shots. Expect Sanogo to put up more than 10 field-goal attempts in this one since 6-foot-9 reserve Anthony Walker has averaged just 10 minutes per game in the tournament.
Miami is a completely different team when Omier is on the bench and the Huskies figure to try to force Omier to either shut down Sanogo in the low post or pick up fouls trying to do so.
UConn has been guilty of being a little 3-point happy at times. The trick for Miami is to have the Huskies fire up plenty of shots from the perimeter without hitting too many because when the Huskies are making 3-pointers, this is a tough team to deal with.
Jordan Miller didn’t miss a shot in the regional final for Miami. He won’t likely be able to match that accomplishment. However, he is a key to everything Miami will try to do.
Much will be made of the fact that Miami head coach Jim Larranaga was at the helm of the George Mason team that stunned a star-studded UConn team in the 2006 Elite Eight. That result is pretty much meaningless heading into this game other than the fact that Larranaga does have previous head coaching experience in the Final Four.
UConn is 25-11-1 and Miami 22-14 against the spread this season.
The Huskies are 28-7 when listed by the sportsbook as the favorite. Miami is 7-4 as the underdog.
UConn is 8-1 straight up and against the college basketball odds in neutral site games this season. It is hard to pick against UConn in this one. However, Miami could easily cover as 5½-point underdogs.
UConn is listed at -250 in our Las Vegas college basketball lines. This means that if you wager $100 on the Huskies, you have a chance to win $40. Miami is +205, offering a chance to win $205 on a $100 wager.
The implied probability attached to the betting lines gives the Huskies a 71.43% chance to win, with the Hurricanes at 32.79%.