On Saturday night of the Men’s College Basketball Final Four in Houston, TX, the Miami Hurricanes and UConn Huskies will square off in the Final Four. Miami, making its first-ever appearance at this level, is 29-7 on the season after winning the Midwest Region; while UConn, looking for their first National Title since 2014, is 29-8 and winner of the West Region. Kickoff for this exciting matchup is set for 8:49 PM EST.
UConn Huskies arrive in Houston as the undisputed favorite. UConn had an incredible run through the West Region, dominating each game more impressive than the last. After taking out Iona early on due to a slow start, they pulled away by 15 points for victory. UConn easily beat Saint Mary’s, Arkansas and Gonzaga in the West Region final, UConn came out on top 82-54 thanks to a dominant defense that held one of college basketball’s premier offenses to just 31% shooting from the floor. Jordan Hawkins led all scorers with 20 points as UConn advanced for the first time in nine seasons to the Final Four.
The Huskies have looked nearly unbeatable as they head to the Final Four. On average, they score 81.2 points per game while holding their four opponents to an average of 59.2 points per game for a whopping 20+ point differential in this tournament. The Huskies have been equally effective on both ends of the court. Led by big man Adama Sanoga, they are scoring nearly 40 points per game in the paint this tournament and shooting 42.5% from 3-point range with ten 3pt field goals per game. Defensively, teams shoot just 35.8% from the field and 29.8% from 3-point range, averaging just 4.5 3pt field goals per game. UConn has been dominant on the glass with a +45 rebounding margin in four games; if UConn has an issue, they can be sloppy – they have a -14 turnover margin in this tournament.
The Miami Hurricanes head into their first-ever Final Four after an impressive performance in the Midwest Region, defeating one power after another. The Hurricanes pulled through a scare in the first round to defeat Drake despite posting one of their worst statistical performances of the tournament. From there, they went on to beat Indiana, #1 seed Houston and finally, second-seeded Texas Longhorns to secure the region title. Miami came from behind throughout the game to defeat Texas, dominating the second half to claim their first-ever regional title. One year after losing to another Big 12 team, last year’s eventual National Champion Kansas, the Hurricanes came back and upset the Longhorns thanks in large part to one player who hadn’t forgotten his experience from last season. Jordan Miller became the first player since 1992 to record a perfect offensive shooting performance, scoring 27 points on 7-of-7 shooting from the field and 13-of-13 from the foul line. Isaiah Wong added 12 of his 14 points in the second half as Miami rallied from a 13-point deficit to claim victory.
Miami enters the Final Four with an offense that has been on fire since shooting just 30% against Drake in the opening round. Since then, they’ve never shot less than 48.5%, averaging 81.2 points per game throughout the tournament and shooting 47% overall. Wong and Nigel Pack anchor the Hurricanes’ backcourt, shooting 35% from 3-point range. However, they have only made seven field goals per contest in four tournament wins. On the defensive end, the Hurricanes hold opponents to 42% shooting and an average of just over 70 points per game. Opponents are hitting 8.5 3pt shots per contest while shooting long ball at 32.5% clip. Norchad Omier leads all rebounders with nearly 14 per game during this tournament; additionally, Miami boasts a +6 turnover margin during play.
These two teams have not played this season.
I will admit that UCONN is the best team in the nation, and the Hurricanes are not a deep team. With that being said, the Canes are a tough-minded group, and they will not be blown out as easily as the previous Husky opponents. I think this will be a close game, and I am taking the Hurricanes and the +5.5 points.
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