Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: March Madness - #5 Miami vs. #4 UConn (4/1/2023) - Taking Vegas



Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: March Madness – #5 Miami vs. #4 UConn (4/1/2023)

By TakingVegas Staff Writer
April 1, 2023

#5 Miami Hurricanes vs #4 UConn Huskies (4/1 @ 8:49 PM EST)

Spread: UConn -5.5
Moneyline: Miami +210 | UConn -250
Total: 149.5

Overview and Betting Info

The #5 Miami Hurricanes (29-7) will be taking on the #4 UConn Huskies (29-8) in the second Final Four game of Saturday night. Miami won their Midwest Region, while UConn dominated the West. These teams did not meet in the regular season.

The Canes are 22-14 against the spread this season and have covered all four of their tournament games. They’ve gone over the total 17 times, including in three of their four tournament games.

The Huskies are 22-11-1 versus the spread and easily covered all their tournament games. They’ve gone over the total 20 times, two of which came during the NCAA Tournament.

#5 Miami Hurricanes

After a critical injury and a disappointing end to the ACC Tournament, many people expected Miami to bow out in the first or second round. Instead, they have one of the most impressive runs in the tournament. That includes wins over #12 Drake, #4 Indiana, #1 Houston, and #2 Texas. They beat Indiana and Houston by more than 14 points by scoring over 84 in both. That’s especially impressive against a Houston team that was second in the country in opponent scoring (57.5 PPG). While Miami’s defense isn’t overly impressive, their ability to generate turnovers and turn them into points is difficult to stop.

While the Houston win was impressive, there were signs that the Cougars were vulnerable in the previous round. Their lack of offense hurt them, as did their inability to keep up with this impressive Miami offense. The Texas game impressed us most and is the best comp for the UConn team they face on Saturday. Like UConn, Texas was a well-balanced team that played smart basketball. The Longhorns played well enough to beat any team in the country, but Miami showed they had another gear that Texas couldn’t match. The Canes’ depth of shooters is as impressive as any team in the country, and they are complimented well by Norchad Omier (13.3 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 1.2 BPD, 57.9 FG%) down low. Omier was injured during their conference tournament and isn’t quite back to form, but he has been good enough to give this Miami team the presence they need down low.

Aside from Omier, Miami is led by a trio of guards in Isaiah Wong (16.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 37.1 3P%), Jordan Miller (15.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 54.9 FG%), and Nijel Pack (13.8 PPG, 1.0 SPG, 40.2 3P%). Wong is a talented scorer averaging 16.5 points during their tournament run. That includes a five-point stinker against Drake, where he went 1-10 from the field. Since then, he has made 47.5% of his shots. Wong is also a reliable free throw shooter, going 22 for 24 from the line during March Madness. Miller is coming off one of the best performances in the NCAA tournament history. He went 7-7 from the field and 13-13 from the free-throw line for 27 points. The guard is averaging 16.5 points during the tournament, along with five blocks. While it’s unlikely he’ll be perfect from the field again, it was far from a fluke, as Miller has made over 50% of his shots in his last three games. Pack is one of the most dangerous three-point shooters in the country and is making 45% of his attempts during their Final Four run. He was off against Texas but still made 50% of his shots from the field for 15 points.

#4 UConn Huskies

No team has been more dominant during the 2023 NCAA Tournament than UConn. They have won all their games by at least 15 points, including an 82-54 blowout of #3 Gonzaga. Aside from the Zags, the Huskies easily dispatched #13 Iona, #5 Saint Mary’s, and #8 Arkansas. The key to their success has been their elite balance of offense on defense. They are averaging 81.7 points while only allowing 59.3. That is an insane point differential for a Final Four team, especially considering they entered as a four-seed.

The one knock on this team is that they did not face the top two seeds in their regions. The blowout of Gonzaga is impressive, especially considering the Zags led the country in scoring by averaging 86.1 points per game (scored 54 against UConn). However, UConn also finished the season by winning eight of their final nine regular season games and barely losing to Marquette in the Big East tournament. That makes them one of the best teams in the country over the last two months. Their win against Gonzaga shows that they can handle high-powered offenses like Miami, which is why they find themselves the favorite to win the Championship.

The Huskies have been led by Adama Sanogo (17.1 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 60.2 FG%), Jordan Hawkins (16.3 PPG, 38.5 3P%), and Tristen Newton (9.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.1 SPG). Sanogo is coming off a subpar performance against Gonzaga, where he had ten points and made just 27.3% of his shots. He had been fantastic before that and is still averaging 20 points, 9.8 rebounds, 20.3 steals, and a 65.4% field goal percentage. Hawkins has been excellent over their last two games, with a combined 44 points and going 9-19 from three. He doesn’t always contribute much else stat-wise, but his scoring makes him crucial to this Huskies offense. Newton has had a quiet tournament and is coming off a bad game against Gonzaga, where he went 2-7 from the field. While he has dipped on offense, forward Alex Karaban (9.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 40.6 3P%) has stepped up. He is a deadly three-point shooter that will be difficult for Miami to contain. If he can continue his strong play, it’s hard to imagine UConn losing.

Free Pick: Over 149.5

While UConn’s defense has been impressive, they did get a bit lucky facing a Gonzaga team who struggled to shoot during their final two games. The Zags relied on their star center to carry them, which doesn’t work against a well-rounded team like UConn. Aside from Gonzaga, UConn hasn’t beaten anyone better than Miami has faced. The Canes played the top four seeds in their region and were able to score against all of them.

The Huskies’ offense is solid and has been able to limit turnovers, meaning they should be in for another big scoring night against a Miami team who struggles to defend shooters. We see UConn opening with an early lead but a shootout leading to an exciting and high-scoring finish.

We’re locked in with the over for this one.