Updated: Apr 3
HOUSTON --- It's Monday, and you know what that means... IT'S TIME TO MAKE A NATIONAL TITLE GAME PICK!
That's right, I am on the ground here in Houston for tonight's showdown between San Diego State and UConn, where everyone is asking the same question: Can San Diego State keep it close with UConn and pull off one of the biggest upsets in title game history?
Let's take a look, with our full preview and pick presented by Betfred Sportsbook
No. 5 San Diego State Aztecs vs. No. 4 UConn Huskies
Spread: UConn (-7)
Earlier today, Austin Montgomery did an excellent job in previewing this game from the San Diego State perspective. What they need to do to win is a combination of get hot from the field, lock down on defense and, although they're one of the best rebounding teams in the country, hold their own on the boards against a team that is one of the few teams in the country that can rightly say they're a better rebounding team than the Aztecs.
To be clear, there is a blueprint to beating UConn, and it was basically listed above. This team can be and has been exposed and can be beaten. Marquette did it twice. Xavier did too. And overall, the Huskies did lose eight games on their way to this moment in time.
Still, while there is a blueprint to beating UConn - is San Diego State the team execute it? I'm just not sure.
That's because - and I mentioned this on Monday's Aaron Torres Podcast - basically everything San Diego State does well, and has done to get here, UConn does it better.
Think about it, if I give you words to describe San Diego State, what would they be:
Big. Tough. Physical. Deep.
The problem is, those are all words you'd use to describe UConn as well.
The way to beat UConn is to hold your own on defense, but also be able to put the ball in the hoop on offense. Xavier scored 83 and 82 in their wins. St. Johns (yes, St John's beat UConn) put up 85, Marquette 82.
It feels like San Diego State - already an offensively challenged team - will need a minimum of 70 to win this game. And against a UConn defense which has proven to be equally as good this season, I'm just not sure they can do it.
Therefore, San Diego State's brand of bully ball, of trusting that there will be a moment in the game that they can wear you down and they can make their run (like the middle of the second half against Florida Atlantic) might not work against UConn.
And that's really the problem to me: Even if San Diego State has that defensive run in them, when they say, hold UConn to 1 of 9 shooting over a seven-minute stretch, will they be able to score enough themselves to get into it, to build a buffer for whenever UConn inevitably makes their run?
I just don't know.
I could see some combination of nerves and San Diego State's sheer will keeping this close early, but UConn simply has too many weapons at too many spots.
I'm not saying this as a UConn homer, I'm just saying it as a guy that isn't totally sure how San Diego State scores enough to win this game outright.
Give me a final of UConn 72, San Diego State 59 (yes, the same score as Saturday's UConn-Miami semifinal) and a fifth national championship for the UConn Huskies.
The Pick: UConn (-7)
To get full odds on the entire NCAA Tournament visit Betfred Sportsbook
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