Edwards: NCAA Finals Betting Preview, ATS Prediction

Edwards: NCAA Finals Betting Preview, ATS Prediction

As of Monday morning, most betting shops had UConn (36-3 straight up, 27-12 against the spread) installed as a seven-point favorite with a total of 145.5. The Boilermakers were +250 to +267 (BetOnline) on the money line.

For first-half wagers, the Huskies were favored by 3.5 or four points with a total of 68.5. Purdue (34-4 SU, 22-15-1 ATS) was +180 to +200 (BetOnline) to go into halftime with the lead.

Most spots have UConn’s Team Total at 76.5 points, with Purdue’s at 69.5. Most books have -120 juice on the ‘under’ for both squads.

FanDuel has proposition bets galore, including odds on who will score the first points of the game (including free throws). Purdue’s Zach Edey is the +300 ‘chalk,’ while UConn’s Donovan Clingan has +480 odds.

The next-shortest odds belong to UConn Tristen Newton (+750), UConn’s Cam Spencer (+850), Purdue’s Braden Smith (+850), UConn’s Stephon Castle (+1000 or 10/1), UConn’s Alex Karaban (10/1), Purdue’s Trey Kaufman-Renn (11/1), Purdue’s Lance Jones (12/1) and Purdue Fletcher Loyer (13/1).

UConn is 11-0 both SU and ATS in its last 11 NCAA Tournament games, winning by margins of 14, 25, 30, 17, 39, 17, 13, 28, 23, 15 and 24 points. Dating back to early February of last season, the Huskies are 23-5 ATS in their last 28 games as single-digit favorites.

Since losing at Creighton on Feb. 20, Dan Hurley’s team has ripped off 12 consecutive wins while going 11-1 ATS. KenPom has UConn ranked #1 in the nation in offensive efficiency and #4 in defensive efficiency.

Purdue comes into tonight’s game trying to duplicate Virginia’s efforts in 2019. Like UVA in 2018 when it lost to UMBC as a No. 1 seed, the Boilermakers fell to No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson in the opening round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

The Cavaliers responded the next season and cut down the nets after beating Texas Tech in overtime of the finals. Matt Painter’s squad will try to do the same thing tonight.

Purdue has been an underdog only twice this year, winning outright in both instances. The Boilermakers won a 92-84 decision over Arizona as two-point ‘dogs in Indianapolis on Dec. 16, and they downed Illinois 77-71 as 2.5-point road ‘dogs on March 5.

The Huskies made merely 3-of-22 treys (13.6%) vs. Northwestern, but they still led by 30 points at one point in the second half and won a 75-58 decision.

Midway through the second half of its Elite Eight win over Illinois, UConn had made just 3-of-15 attempts from 3-point land (20.0%) and still had a 30-point lead on the Fighting Illini.

At halftime of Saturday’s 86-72 win over Alabama, the Crimson Tide was shooting at an 8-of-11 clip from 3-point range. Nevertheless, UConn still had a four-point lead. The Huskies had an incredible 20/4 assist-to-turnover ratio against Alabama.

In other words, even when UConn isn’t shooting well from 3-point range and/or its opponents are lighting it up from beyond the arc, it still finds ways to win (easily) and cover numbers.

Whether it’s playing lockdown defense or getting great, high-percentage (2-pointers) looks at the rim, the Huskies overcome, prevail and, most importantly, cover.

I’m not about jump off of this juggernaut squad.

PREDICTION: I’m on UConn -6.5 for two units. I got that late Saturday night, but Circa and the Westgate SuperBook are still at -6.5. I’m also on UConn -3.5 in the first half for 0.5 units.