March Madness National Championship Expert Picks

March Madness National Championship Game Expert Picks

The confetti is ready, "One Shining Moment" is prepared, and only two titans of college basketball remain in the March Madness tournament. We've finally reached the culmination of a month of madness, with a titanic clash for basketball immortality to come between UConn and Purdue!

The stage is set for a heavyweight battle between these two powerhouses. Who will etch their name on the National Championship Trophy? Below, I break down the momentous UConn versus Purdue clash.

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Nick's Pick: Purdue Moneyline +245

Matchup: UConn vs Purdue

I love the value on the Boilermakers in the National Championship game. Matt Painter's squad have been just as impressive as UConn while running roughshod over the competition in the big dance. Purdue have gone 5-0 against the spread, with their closest contest being a six-point victory over Tennessee in the Elite Eight. Despite this, sportsbooks have instilled the Boilermakers as heavy 6.5-point underdogs.

Purdue's shot nearly 49% from the field, while hitting 37% of attempts from beyond the three-point line during the tournament. While the Huskies have struggled from deep of late, shooting under 34% over the last three games. The Boilermakers also hold a significant advantage on the glass, boasting a stellar 37% offensive rebounding percentage. On top of that, behind the towering skills of Zach Edey, Purdue have been one of the best teams in the country at getting to the free throw line, sitting third in average attempt rate, while UConn is just 33rd. Getting the Huskies' stars into foul trouble early, in particular fellow big man Donovan Clingan, will be key to a Purdue upset.

Edey broke the legendary David Robinson's record in the Final Four, with 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in six straight March Madness games. I like the Canadian to go to work against March Madness Outstanding Player favorite Donovan Clingan and the Huskies and power Purdue to their first National Championship.

David's Pick: UConn -7

The Boilermakers have been as advertised in this NCAA tournament, covering the spread in every game behind the indomitable paint presence that is Zach Edey, who is averaging 28 points and 15 rebounds per outing. But N.C. State in the Final Four offered some hints on how to best defend Edey by harassing his touches and denying entry passes, and UConn presents even better interior manpower with 7-4 Donovan Clingan and 6-8 Alex Karaban.

Equally as important, the Huskies are also better on the perimeter. And it’s tough to argue with what UConn has done over the past month—12 straight wins, and covers in 11 of those games, speak for themselves.

UConn Purdue Under 145

These are two teams who run a slow tempo as UConn is ranked 328th in adjusted tempo and Purdue checks in at 211th in the country according to KenPom. It’s not uncommon to see lowering scoring National Championship games as nerves, especially early on, can keep the ball out of the basket.

While the firepower of these two teams put the spotlight on the offensive side of the ball, deservedly so, don’t forget that these are two of the best defensive teams in the country. As we saw clearly vs. Illinois, UConn has the ability to cool off red hot offenses and they have the big man inside (Donovan Clingan) to go toe-to-toe with Purdue legend Zach Edey. We know Edey is going to have a big game no matter who he faces, but Clingan should be able to do enough defensively to frustrate Edey which could limit Purdue’s scoring chances. 

UConn ML (-300) vs. Purdue

Honestly the ship has sailed a bit on this number, as I bet it at -280 originally but it’s hard for me to find a path for Purdue to win this game. I think UConn is too deep, too experienced and too strong on both sides of the ball to lose in this spot. 

While -300 isn’t the sexiest bet of the day, I trust it better than the spread for either team. Then again, I bet the UConn moneyline in the National Championship game last year and would have won more money if I bet them to cover the number, so hopefully I’m not repeating the same mistake.

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