NCAAB

2024 Men’s Final Four Predictions: Can Anyone Beat UConn?

The Connecticut Huskies have looked unstoppable on their way to another title — but can another team deny them the repeat?

April 1, 2024

The 2024 NCAA men’s basketball tournament is down to its last four teams with the Final Four in Glendale, Arizona on Saturday. The title game will tip off Monday night. You can wager on the Final Four and National Championship Game through Tipico Sportsbook, and the game previews below are accompanied by the latest Tipico Sportsbook odds.

1 Purdue vs. 11 NC State (Saturday, 6:09 p.m. EST) 

Purdue emerged as the winner of the Midwest region, living up to its billing as a 1 seed, one year after becoming just the second top seed in NCAA Tournament history to lose to a 16 seed. History could be on Purdue’s side, as the only previous 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed was Virginia in 2018, and the Cavaliers bounced back by winning the title in 2019. The Boilermakers have looked similarly calm and determined this year, knowing that they have already experienced rock bottom.

Purdue won its first two NCAA Tournament games over Grambling State and Utah State by a combined 67 points, then beat 5 seed Gonzaga 80-68 in the Sweet 16 and took out 2 seed Tennessee 72-66 in the Sweet 16. Zach Edey powered Purdue in the win over Tennessee, as the standout center produced a whopping 40 points and 16 rebounds against the Volunteers. If the Boilermakers can keep their 7-4 star out of foul trouble and continue to knock down 3-point shots at a high clip around Edey as they have all season, they have what it takes to follow in Virginia’s footsteps and go from embarrassment to champion.

NC State wouldn’t even have been in the NCAA Tournament if not for a Cinderella run through the ACC Tournament, which included improbable victories over Duke and UNC. The Wolfpack won five consecutive ACC Tournament games, and have now won four more in a row in the NCAA Tournament to win the South Region, bringing the team’s winning streak to nine. And now they’re in the Final Four.

NC State has been getting better and better, as the team’s margin of victory over Duke increased from five points in the ACC Tournament to 12 points in their Elite Eight rematch. Prior to beating the Blue Devils the second time, NC State knocked off 6 seed Texas Tech 80-67, 14 seed Oakland 79-73, and 2 seed Marquette 67-58. Strong interior play has been the key to NC State’s surge, as Mohamed Diarra has three double-doubles in the NCAA Tournament and DJ Burns has scored at least 16 points in three of four games — including 29 in the 76-64 win over 4 seed Duke.

Edey’s shot blocking and rebounding have the potential to stifle NC State’s game plan, so getting him in foul trouble and off the floor will be imperative for the Wolfpack to continue their Cinderella run.

Moneyline pick: Purdue

Spread pick: NC State

Over/Under pick: Under

1 Connecticut vs. 4 Alabama (Saturday, 8:49 p.m EST)

UConn has looked nearly unstoppable in its quest for a second consecutive NCAA Tournament title, and the defending champs have stretched their March Madness winning streak to 10 games while easily advancing through the East region. The closest any team has come to the Huskies was 9 seed Northwestern, who managed to lose by “only” 17 points.

Connecticut won a rematch of last year’s National Championship Game 82-52 over 5 seed San Diego State in the Sweet 16, then blew out 3 seed Illinois 77-52, propelled by a 25-0 start to the second half. Coach Dan Hurley’s Huskies have employed a combination of balanced offense and stifling defense thus far, holding all four opponents to fewer than 60 points while having at least three players score in double digits in every game — including five double-digit scorers on two occasions.

Alabama will be the most gifted offensive team UConn has faced in the tournament, but the question for the West Region champs will be whether they can get enough stops to hang with the heavy favorites. After allowing at least 88 points in nine of its last 12 games heading into the Sweet 16, Alabama held UNC to 87 in the Sweet 16 and Clemson to 82 in the Elite Eight — pivotal, considering the Crimson Tide scored exactly 89 points in each of those games.

Guard Mark Sears has led the way offensively for Alabama with 24.3 PPG in the NCAA Tournament. It would be shocking if Alabama failed to be the first team to break 60 against the Huskies since St. John’s put up 90 in the Big East Tournament semifinals, but UConn won that game 95-90, showing that the team is capable of thriving at any pace. Ultimately, Connecticut’s superior defense will likely prove to be the difference.

Moneyline pick: Connecticut

Spread pick: Alabama

Over/Under pick: Over

National Championship Game (Monday, April 8)

1 Connecticut vs. 1 Purdue

If the Final Four picks above come to fruition, it will be UConn and Purdue facing off in the National Championship Game. Connecticut would be the favorite in the clash of 1 seeds, but Purdue would have the best player on the floor in Edey.

With Edey’s 7-4 frame disrupting UConn’s gameplan inside, the Boilermakers would certainly have a chance to hand the Huskies their first loss since Creighton on Feb. 20 and deny UConn’s bid to be the first repeat NCAA championship team since the Florida Gators in 2006 and 2007.

Prediction: Purdue

Sasha Yodashkin
Sasha Yodashkin has been contributing NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and Tennis content to RotoWire since 2015, with an emphasis on DFS. He is a huge New York sports fan who has been playing fantasy sports since middle school.
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