It’s that time of year, and this time the Final Four could not be any wackier. This is the first time in March Madness history that a 3-seed or higher hasn’t reached the Final Four since seeding began in 1979. Additionally, three teams will be making their Final Four debuts for the first time.
Let’s take a look at the two matchups that will be at NRG Stadium in Houston on Saturday.
No. 9 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 5 San Diego State, 6:09 p.m. ET
One of these two squads will be headed to their first ever National Championship game, which is unreal to think about.
The Aztecs will try to win with their defense, which is the best defense of those remaining in the tournament. SDSU also has the most experience as a team and enjoys playing at a slow tempo. They are allowing opponents to shoot just 17% from beyond the arc in the NCAA tournament.
The Aztecs have the second-best perimeter defense in the nation, but they aren’t the strongest shooting team. FAU must keep them out of the paint in order to win this game.
The Owls are all about shooting the three-ball, and that’s been able to win them a lot of games down the stretch. FAU possesses the lowest odds to win the championship, but could make history as the lowest seed ever to win the tournament if they pull it off. The pace and confidence of the Owls are critical to trying to keep the Aztecs off balance and trying to keep up. San Diego State’s perimeter defense may be too much for FAU to handle.
My pick: San Diego State
No. 4 UConn vs. No. 5 Miami, 8:49 p.m. ET
The Hurricanes are looking for their first championship in school history. They are coached by Jim Larranaga, who led George Mason to the Final Four 17 years ago. Miami was able to build their roster with help from NIL, and it’s worked in a big way.
The Hurricanes are so gifted offensively that their efficiency is fifth in the county according to KenPom. Four different players average double digits. Miami is solid in the second half of games in the tournament, with a plus-minus of +46. The only glaring weakness is their defense, which the Huskies will look to exploit in a big way.
The Huskies, on the other hand, are searching for their fifth national championship and are clearly the best team remaining in the tournament. Jordan Hawkins and Adama Sanogo are both phenomenal pieces for the Huskies down the stretch and are the biggest names to look for in this game for UConn.
The Huskies blew out Gonzaga 82-54 in the Elite Eight and have won 19 games this season by 15 points or more. They don’t just like to beat teams; they enjoy burying their opponents when they are down. They’re a top-15 defensive team and are really good at scoring the basketball. It’s going to be hard for Miami to stop the force of UConn.
My pick: UConn
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