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March Madness Betting: Players To Watch in Monday’s Title Tilt

It doesn’t get much better than having UConn and Purdue squaring off in Monday’s national title game. Either the Huskies and Boilermakers have been ranked in the top two in the national polls in each of the last 13 rankings.

The NCAA basketball odds are favoring defending champion UConn to become a rare back-to-back champion while Purdue is in the championship game for the first time since 1969.

March Madness Betting: Players To Watch in Monday’s Title Tilt
Christian Petersen / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

When looking at our odds of winning March Madness, UConn is listed as a 6½-point favorite to become the first team since Florida in 2006 and 2007 to win the national title in consecutive seasons.

Here are some of the top players to watch heading into the national title game. The game is set to tip at 9:20 p.m. ET at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ, and it will be televised on TBS

Clash of the Titans

It is not often that UConn’s 7-foot-2 sophomore Donovan Clingan matches up against a taller player. However, that is the case with Purdue being led by 7-foot-4 national player of the year front-runner Zach Edey.

Edey is averaging 28 points per game in the NCAA tournament on 68% shooting. He has eight straight games with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.

In seven matchups with ranked teams during the regular season, Edey averaged 22 points and 12 rebounds per game.

The last time he faced a Big East team, Edey had 28 points and 15 rebounds in a win over a ranked Marquette team.

Clingan is fourth on the UConn team in scoring. When placing March Madness bets, keep in mind that it has been a different story in the postseason. After putting up 13.7 points and 9.3 rebounds in UConn’s three games during the Big East tournament, he has averaged 16.2 points and 9 rebounds in the NCAA tournament.

UConn can win without Clingan having a monster game. It is hard to make that statement about Edey and Purdue.

When the season began, the college basketball odds listed Edey as the favorite at -300 to win the Wooden Award as the top player in the country with Clingan tied for 25th at +8000.

Making Their Point

It is hard to win at this time of the year without elite point guard play and both Purdue and UConn have special players running the show.

UConn’s senior Tristen Newton was named the winner of the Bob Cousy Award as the top point guard in the country. He leads UConn in scoring (16.2 points per game) and with 6.2 assists per contest.

Newton had 19 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in the 2023 national title game. He is averaging 13.4 points and 7.2 assists in this year’s tournament.

Braden Smith is a sophomore and one of 10 Indiana natives on the Purdue roster. His scoring and shooting comes and goes at times but he has 15 straight games with more assists than turnovers. He has 44 assists and 13 turnovers in the first five March Madness games.

Smith has flirted with triple-doubles in each of his last three tournament games even though his shooting has been a little off. Hells need to make shots in Monday’s title game. The college basketball odds of +149 for Smith to have at least two 3-pointers is sure to attract some betting action.

Joining the Party

When Cam Spencer was lighting it up at Rutgers and Lance Jones was wrapping up his fourth season as a starter at Southern Illinois, both players were eager to experience the joy of a championship chase.

Jones is third on the Boilermakers in scoring and he has scored in double digits in two of Purdue’s last three games. One of his three 20-point games came against a ranked Wisconsin team.

Spencer is second in scoring only to Newton for UConn meaning that both of the Huskies’ top scorers began their collegiate careers elsewhere.

Spencer is shooting 43.5% from 3-point range in the NCAA tournament. He had 110 points and 17 3-pointers in eight games against ranked teams during the regular season. When he is connecting from the perimeter, UConn is nearly impossible to stop.

Youth Is Served

UConn brought in five freshmen to join a solid group of returning players. While Jaylin Stewart is averaging 10.4 minutes per game for the Huskies, Stephon Castle has been the difference maker.

Not only does he often draw the most challenging defensive assignment, but in the NCAA tournament he is delivering 12 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in 27 minutes.

Purdue’s top freshman is Cameron Heide. Heis averaging 4.6 points in 13.4 minutes in the NCAA tournament. Myles Colvin is another freshman who has had his moments to shine.

Three of Purdue’s top six scorers are part of a strong sophomore class led by Smith and Fletcher Loyer. Loyer has scored in double figures in each of the last four games  He had 27-point efforts in the regular season against Arizona and Purdue so he knows how to deliver when the lights are the brightest. Loyer could be a popular pick in the NCAAB picks and parlays.

 

 

Questions of the Day

What are the game odds for Monday’s title game?


UConn is a 6½-point favorite with -280 odds to win the game outright. Purdue has +220 odds to win the national title contest with the total set at 145½.

How have UConn and Purdue fared in previous national title games?


UConn topped Duke 77-74 in 1999, defeated Georgia Tech 82-73 in the 2004 championship game, beat Butler 53-41 in 2011, , edged Kentucky 60-54 in 2014, and rolled past San Diego State 76-59 to win the 2023 title. Purdue lost to UCLA 92-72 in the 1969 title affair.

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