Videos by OutKick
Imma shoot you guys straight: There isn’t a lot of betting value in the 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship. Or, at least, I’m not finding any. Hence the “pizza bets” in the headline. (These will be small wagers).
But, there’s no way I’m not betting the national championship between the San Diego State Aztecs and UConn Huskies Monday, April 3rd at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas and tip-off is 9:20 p.m. ET.
UConn put a hurting on the Miami Hurricanes, 72-59, in the Final Four Saturday. In the 2023 NCAA tourney, UConn has a +20.6 point-per-game (PPG) margin and +15.5 spread differential.
San Diego State didn’t quite breeze past its NCAA tourney opponents. In fact, SDSU eked past Florida Atlantic 72-71 Saturday in the Final Four and 57-56 over Creighton in the Elite Eight.
My biggest issue with betting Aztecs-Huskies is it feels like TCU vs. Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship. UGA was -13.5 favorites, completely out-classed TCU and won by 58.
The sportsbooks were laying a trap by making Georgia nearly two-TD favorites and UConn as -7.5 favorites gives off CFP vibes. “SDSU has a great defense, +7.5 is too many points, right?” Wrong. Probably. Actually, I don’t know.
San Diego State vs. UConn National Championship Odds (DraftKings)
For what it’s worth, the college basketball nerds disagree with the oddsmakers about how much the Huskies should be favored in the national championship.
Ken Pom gives UConn a 5-point edge, Erik Haslam says Connecticut is 5.73 points better, and Bart Torvik says the Huskies are 4 points better than the Aztecs.
In the Final Four, I chose to ignore these guys in favor of the sportsbooks. Ken Pom had UConn smacking Miami and SDSU beating FAU by 1 point. Ken Pom was right and I was wrong. Go figure.
Them saying San Diego State-UConn will be close, nudges me toward taking the points with the Aztecs. I said I would when I predicted this matchup on the OutKick Bets Podcast previewing the 2023 Final Four.
I have two angles supporting a bet on SDSU: Fade the public and Aztecs big Nathan Mensah. Per VSIN, roughly 80% of the action at DraftKings is on UConn as of Monday morning.
Connecticut has more of a championship-DNA. The Huskies rank 3rd in Ken Pom’s offensive efficiency and 8th defensively. Whereas SDSU ranks 4th in defensive efficiency and 68th offensively.
Huskies big Adama Sanogo has overwhelmed everyone in the tournament. Sanogo is averaging 20.2 PPG on 68.2% shooting with 9.8 rebounds.
However, Mensah’s 7-foot-4 wingspan can neutralize Sanogo’s physicality. Mensah was the 2023 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year and locks down the paint for the Aztecs.
San Diego State has the experience, coaching, toughness and athleticism to keep up with UConn. That said, I wouldn’t bet more than a pizza on it.
‘Pizza Bet’ #1: San Diego State +7.5 (-110) at DraftKings
National Championship ‘Pizza Bet’ #2: UConn PG Andre Jackson Point Prop (7.5)
- Over 7.5: +105
- UNDER 7.5: -140
Jackson’s UNDER for his 7.5-point prop being so much more expensive is the sportsbooks’ way of steering us towards betting the Over. Jackson has the lowest usage rate among UConn’s rotation players.
He averages just 6.8 PPG this season and he’s shooting 28.4% from 3. Jackson has scored more than 7 points in just 14 of 35 games in 2022-23 and two of his five tourney games.
Jackson is more of a distributor for UConn. His assist prop at DraftKings is set at 5.5 (+110/-150) and Jackson is 2nd on the Huskies in assist rate.
Between Sanogo, G Jordan Hawkins and stretch-4 Alex Karaban (who will discuss more in a moment), there are too many mouths to feed on Connecticut and Jackson ain’t one of them.
BET: UConn’s Andre Jackson UNDER 7.5 points (-140)
National Championship ‘Pizza Bet’ #3: UConn F Alex Karaban 3-Pointers Made (1.5)
- OVER 7.5: +145
- Under 7.5: -200
Speaking of “trap line,” Karaban’s 3-pointer made prop feels fishy. Karaban has a 60.1% 3-point attempt rate (3PAr), taking 4.2 threes per game and making a team-high 40.4% (among actual rotation players).
It’s not like DraftKings doesn’t have that data built into their pricing so I’m confused as to why his OVER is +145. Karaban has made exactly two 3-pointers in three of his five 2023 NCAA tourney games.
Karaban has made at least two 3-pointers in 24 of his 38 games played this season. SDSU opponents have a 40.2% 3PAr, per Ken Pom. So we know the Aztecs are going allow the Huskies to chuck 3s.
Maybe UConn chases Karaban off the 3-point line in the national championship and this is truly a “trap line”. But, if so, at least we are getting trapped into a +145 payout.
BET: UConn F Alex Karaban OVER 1.5 made 3-Pointers (+145)
National Championship ‘Pizza Bet’ #4: San Diego State big Nathan Mensah Rebounds (5.5)
- OVER 5.5: -115
- Under 5.5: -115
Mensah is the Aztecs’ defensive anchor and leads the team in rebounds with 5.9 per game. Mensah has grabbed at least six boards in 22 of his 38 games this season including four of five NCAA tourney games.
Even though Sanogo randomly banged two 3-pointers early in the Final Four vs. Miami, he’s going to spend a majority of his time down low. So Mensah will be down there with Sanogo and will have rebounding opportunities.
BET: San Diego State big Nathan Mensah OVER 5.5 rebounds (-115)
National Championship ‘Pizza Bet’ #5: San Diego State F Jaedon LeDee Points (7.5)
- OVER 7.5: -130
- Under 7.5: +100
One of the few matchup edges San Diego State has over Connecticut is the Aztecs’ ability to get to the foul line vs. the Huskies who foul too much.
Per Ken Pom, SDSU ranks 112th nationally out of 363 programs in offensive free-throw-attempt rate (FTr) and UConn is 313th in defensive FTr allowed.
LeDee leads the Aztecs in FTr and hits an above-averaged 73.2% of his free throws. This probably explains why LeDee’s Over for his points prop is more expensive.
Finally, LeDee has scored at least 8 points in three of his five NCAA tourney games and eight of his last 12 games dating back to the regular season.
BET: San Diego State F Jaedon LeDee OVER 7.5 points (-130)
Listen to the ‘OutKick Bets with Geoff Clark’ podcast HERE.
First-time DraftKings users can get up to a $1,000 deposit bonus and receive a 20% first deposit match up to $1,000 when they sign up. New users can lock in this offer NOW by clicking this link.