NCAA March Madness: UConn Huskies vs. Miami Hurricanes betting preview, odds and predictions
In a Final Four matchup in the NCAA Tournament, the UConn Huskies take on the Miami Hurricanes with a spot in the championship on the line. All tournament long, VSiN will be providing you with March Madness betting odds, in-depth team analysis and expert college basketball picks. Make us your one-stop shop for all of your betting needs.
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How to watch UConn vs. Miami
When: Saturday, 8:50 p.m. ET
Where: NRG Stadium - Houston, Texas
Odds for UConn vs. Miami
Spread: UConn -5.5
(Odds accurate as of Friday, March 31st at 9:50 p.m. ET)
Real-time betting splits at DraftKings Sportsbook
West Region No. 4 Seed UConn Huskies
The Huskies looked like they were clearly the best team in college basketball before Big East play began. Things got a bit rockier for Dan Hurley’s team from there, but it looks like the group has found its mojo again in March Madness. The Huskies just earned a 28-point win over a very good Gonzaga team, and they have won all four of their NCAA tournament games by at least 15 points. UConn is elite on both ends of the floor, and the team has two borderline stars it can count on every night: Adama Sanogo and Jordan Hawkins. Those two make up one of the best inside-outside combinations in the nation, and the Huskies have a bunch of other guys that know their roles. UConn is one of only three teams with a top-15 rating in both adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency.
Midwest Region No. 5 Seed Miami Hurricanes
Miami was down by as many as 13 points against Texas in the Elite Eight, but the Hurricanes were able to gut out an 88-81 victory over the Longhorns. So far, Miami’s mediocre play on the defensive end hasn’t been enough to hold back a team that is flat-out special offensively. In the Elite Eight, it was Jordan Miller that led the way for the Hurricanes. He had 27 points and was a perfect 7 for 7 from the field and 13 for 13 from the charity stripe. However, Isiaah Wong and Nijel Pack are just as capable of winning games for this Miami team, and forward Norchad Omier and guard Wooga Poplar play their roles very well. In addition to being loaded with talent, the Hurricanes are also coached by the legendary Jim Larranaga, who is in the Final Four for the second time in his career. Larranaga led George Mason to the Final Four in 2006, but this Miami team is a lot more talented. At this point, the 73-year-old has to be thinking he can win a championship.
UConn vs. Miami matchup analysis
Miami's offense has an absurd amount of firepower, with Jordan Miller, Isaiah Wong and Nijel Pack all being tremendous scorers. All three of them can really shoot the 3, and Norchad Omier and Wooga Poplar are capable of helping them out quite a bit. Poplar has been tremendous in this tournament, as he has had three games with double digits in scoring, despite averaging just 8.5 points per game this season. He's a legitimate sniper from behind the 3-point line.
The issue for Miami is that this team's biggest strength is its next-level offense. But while the Hurricanes are fifth in adjusted offensive efficiency according to both KenPom and Bart Torvik, UConn is third in both models. However, the Huskies also happen to be elite defensively, as they are top-15 when it comes to adjusted defensive efficiency — while the Hurricanes aren't even a top-100 defensive team.
We just saw UConn completely shut down the nation's top offensive team, as the Huskies held the Gonzaga Bulldogs to 33.3% shooting from the floor and 10.0% shooting from 3. Now, there are some differences between Gonzaga and Miami, so there's no guarantee the Huskies will complete shut down the Hurricanes. Mark Few's team ran everything through big man Drew Timme, while Miami is a perimeter-oriented bunch. Absolutely everything runs through the guards for the Hurricanes. However, the Huskies have the 12th-best 3P% defense in the nation this season, so they should be able to get out and make life rough on a Hurricanes team that is 31st in the nation in 3P%. And if Miami's guards don't put up some crazy offensive numbers, this game will be similar to UConn's four other March Madness games, which all saw the Huskies winning by at least 15 points.
The reason that winning the battle on the perimeter is going to be huge for Miami is that UConn is an absolute load around the basket. Adama Sanogo is averaging 17.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game this season, and there's nobody on the Hurricanes that can come close to matching his physicality in the paint. Sanogo only had 10 points and 10 boards against Gonzaga last game, but he also dished out six assists. The reason he was so effective as a passer is that the Zags had to send a lot of extra help in his direction. Miami will likely need to do the same, which will only mean easy opportunities for guys like Jordan Hawkins and Alex Karaban to score. Hawkins is a guy to really look out for in this game. He had 20 points in the win over the Zags last game, and he hits six 3s in that game. He should similarly feast on a Hurricanes team that is not reliable when it comes to defending the 3-point line.
It's also worth noting that UConn is 8-1 both straight-up and against the spread in neutral site games this year. The Huskies won the Phil Knight Invitational earlier in the year, and they have just been dominant in big games all season. UConn is also 17-4 SU and 14-7 ATS when playing with at least three days of rest this season, so the extra preparation time could be huge for Dan Hurley and the Huskies.
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