Makinen: March Madness Championship Game trends

April 2, 2023 09:47 AM


The 2023 NCAA Tournament will go down as one of the more memorable, if for no other reason than it became an event of “expect the unexpected”. It will be remembered for both what the lower-seeded teams were able to accomplish and what those seeded higher were not. We’ve had upsets, dominant performances, and now, a Final Four buzzer-beater. In essence, this year’s tourney encapsulated everything we’ve come to love about the madness in March. Now, we’ve reached the pinnacle, the championship game, a contest that very few could have expected, as Connecticut takes on San Diego State in a #4-#5 seed matchup that most often would occur in the bracket’s second round. The Huskies are a 7.5-point favorite at last check, and as I have continued to do throughout each of the tournament rounds, I present the key trends that will apply to Monday’s game. These angles come from my Round-By-Round and Conference articles that were offered up in the VSiN Tournament Betting Guide, so let’s get right into it, and you’ll see that I’ve again added the pertinent head-to-head series trends.


Championship Games

- Championship game favorites of 3 points or more are on a 13-3 SU and 11-5 ATS (68.8%) run, while those favored by 2.5 or less are just 4-4 SU and ATS since ’98. However, Kansas (-4) did win but failed to cover against UNC, 72-69. (Connecticut -7.5)

- Only twice in the last 22 years did the championship-winning team not cover the spread (Duke against Butler in 2010, and last year). (Outright winner ATS)

- In the last 15 championship games matching non-equal seeds, the better seed is on a 12-3 SU and 10-5 ATS (66.7%) run. (Connecticut -7.5)

- Big East schools own a perfect 6-0 SU and ATS record in championship games since '01 while Big Ten teams are winless at 0-7 SU and ATS. These trends last "collided" in the 2018 title game win by Villanova over Michigan. (Connecticut -7.5)       

- The last seven non-major conference teams to reach the championship game are just 2-5 SU and ATS (28.5%). All six of those games that had totals went UNDER (100%). (Against San Diego St 7.5, UNDER 132 SDSU-CON)

- Bettors have gone just 5-10 ATS in their last 15 championship games when moving opening lines toward one team or the other. Last year’s game opened and closed at Kansas -4. This same group is on a 13-6 (68.4%) run when moving totals one way or the other. (Against Connecticut -6.5 to -7.5, OVER 132 CON-SDSU)


Applicable Conference Trends for Championship game

  • Note – Conference trend records DO NOT include any pertinent results from early 2023 NCAA tournament results unless noted


Big East

CONNECTICUT (#4, WEST) vs. SAN DIEGO ST (#5-Mountain West)


-Big East schools own a perfect 6-0 SU and ATS record in championship games since ’01. (Connecticut -7.5)

-Big East teams are on an 8-1 SU and ATS (88.9%) run against Mountain West teams in the tournament. (Connecticut -7.5)

- Favorites are 28-14 ATS (66.7%) in the last 42 Big East NCAA tourney games. (Connecticut -7.5) 

- In NCAA tourney games between Big East programs and non-major conferences since ’15, favorites are on an 21-8 SU and ATS (72.4%) run. (Connecticut -7.5)


Mountain West



-As tournament underdogs, Mountain West teams are just 8-37 SU and 11-31-3 ATS (26.2%) since ’01. (Against San Diego St 7.5)

Mountain West teams have been totally overmatched against major conference programs in the NCAAs since 2000, 9-42 SU and 12-37-2 ATS (24.5%). (Against San Diego St 7.5)


Head-to-Head Series Trends for Final Four Round


- San Diego State and Connecticut met last in the 2011 Sweet 16 round of the West Regional in Anaheim, CA, and the Kemba Walker-led Huskies ( 2) upended the Kawhi Leonard-led Aztecs, 74-67. The game easily surpassed the posted total of 130 by an 11-point margin.

back to news

Live On Air

Streaming Now: Sunday Bet Prep

play Watch Live radio Listen Live


Matt Youmans: Heat (+8.5) at Nuggets. View more picks.


The Lombardi Line: Both the Nuggets and Heat shot poorly in Game 1 of the NBA Finals - and the total is down five points in Game 2 (219.5 to 214.5). Consider betting the OVER if you expect any positive regression. View more tips.