March Madness finally comes to a close on Monday, and it's not exactly the matchup most were envisioning a few weeks back. Will the Connecticut Huskies dominate yet again, or do the San Diego State Aztecs have one last surprise in them?
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Which bets should draw our attention this weekend? Let's find out.
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San Diego State (5) vs. Connecticut (4)
San Diego State +7.5 (-120)
UConn has bulldozed its way to the title game, defeating all of its tournament opponents by double-digit points and some by even 20-plus points. Needless to say, it's scary to bet against them at this point, but the value could actually lie on San Diego State's side of the spread.
If you've seen past betting guides, you will no doubt know that San Diego State was among a small list of teams that fit numberFire's statistical benchmarks of past NCAA champions outside of being a worse seed than the vast majority of champions. In essence, despite their surprising run, the data suggests that they're a deserving contender.
According to KenPom and BartTorvik, San Diego State cracks the nation's top 15 teams, and the latter even has them inside the top 10. While the Aztecs are approximately a top-60 team in terms of adjusted offense, per BartTorvik, they have the nation's 4th-best adjusted defense. Only one of five tournament opponents has exceeded 70 points against them.
Of course, slowing down Connecticut will be no easy task, as the Huskies are the number one overall team, per both power rankings. They're third in adjusted offense and ninth in adjusted defense, proving they're a team with few weaknesses.
Still, this is a hefty spread for UConn to cover against what is arguably a top-10 opponent, and our model agrees. According to the model, the Huskies should be closer to three-point favorites, and San Diego State should cover 63.4% of the time. Similarly, BartTorvik projects the Huskies as mere four-point favorites.
It might be the uncomfortable wager, but taking the Aztecs and the points looks like the better value tonight.