This has been a wild NCAA Tournament with no number one seeds advancing to the Elite Eight and victories by a 16-seed victory, a 15-seed victory, and a No. 9 seed reaching the Final Four. However, we’ve now reached the final weekend with just UConn, Miami, San Diego State, and Florida Atlantic left standing.
In this article, we’ll dive into the odds for futures and individual games, highlighting some of our best bets for both. At the moment, UConn is the odds-on favorite to win the national championship and Florida Atlantic is the biggest underdog, but is that how it should be?
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Odds to Win National Championship
|San Diego State||+370|
UConn comes into the Final Four with the best odds to cut down the nets and rightfully so. They have been dominant this NCAA Tournament, easily beating Iona, Saint Mary’s, Arkansas, and Gonzaga.
Miami has been the next most impressive team based on the quality of opponents, topping Drake, Indiana, Houston, and Texas en route to the Final Four. Miami was also underdogs in each game except against Drake; although, they did have to benefit from meltdowns by both Drake and Texas in games where it seemed Miami was sure to lose.
FAU got past Memphis in the first round but was given the gift of facing Fairleigh Dickinson in the second round before beating Tennessee and Kansas State. Meanwhile, San Diego State beat Charleston and Furman before posting two big-time wins against Alabama and Creighton.
While it may be tempting to ride the Cinderella story of FAU all the way to the finish line, no NCAA Tournament winner since UNLV in 1990 has come from a non-power conference. That’s 26 consecutive champions coming from the power five conferences of college basketball.
However, a similarly long-standing tradition could hold San Diego State back as no national champion has been a school west of Texas since Arizona won in 1997. I know that seems crazy, but it’s true and, on top of that, a number five seed has never won the NCAA Tournament at all. Those are two long traditions working against the Aztecs.
All of this makes it seem like the winner will come from the Miami and UCONN matchup, but in addition to UCONN being the most dominant team left in the field, another factor is working in their favor. This will be the fourth Final Four with no number-one seed. In the previous three instances, the winners were the better favorite entering the final weekend.
In fact, 17 of the past 18 Final Fours have seen one of the two favorites entering the weekend go on to win it all. That means either UCONN or San Diego State would be most likely to cut down the nets.
Best Bet: UCONN (although, at these odds, a straight bet on them to win doesn’t offer too much profit).
Florida Atlantic vs San Diego State
Saturday, 6:09 p.m., TBS
San Diego State is the best defense left in the NCAA Tournament and ranked 14th in the country in points allowed per possession. While Florida Atlantic has good balance as a team, San Diego State has held all four of its NCAA tournament opponents under 65 points, including Alabama and Creighton, who both have more high-end talent on their rosters than FAU does.
Yet, Florida Atlantic has been pretty good against the spread, going 3-1 in the NCAA Tournament and 24-11-1 this season. They’ve also won 11 consecutive games, which is tied for the longest active win streak in the nation, so that should give them confidence coming into their Final Four showdown.
At the end of the day, history has not been kind to the highest seed in the Final Four. Since 2005, there have been 14 Final Fours where there was one team who had the highest seed entering the weekend. Those teams are 2-12 straight up in the Final Four.
When you pair that with the fact that San Diego State has covered in six straight games and is 8-0 when favored by seven points or less, it’s hard to bet on Florida Atlantic straight up.
If you’re not confident in betting the Aztecs straight up, the under is 22-13 in Aztecs games this season, and their last twelve games have gone under the total, so you can expect San Diego State to want to keep this ugly and slow.
Best Bet: San Diego State ML (-130)
UCONN vs Miami (FL)
Saturday, 8:49 p.m., CBS
Jim Larranaga of Miami is just the 3rd head coach to bring two schools to their first Final Four, doing so with Miami and George Mason, which is pretty cool. He’s also done so with a team that nobody believes in as Miami is 9-2 against the spread as underdogs this season and 20-5 in similar situations over the past two seasons.
They will, again, be underdogs here since UCONN has absolutely dominated non-conference opponents this year, going 15-0 straight up and 14-1 against the spread when they play a team that is not in the Big East.
Miami is the best free-throw shooting team left in the field, which should help them down the stretch if this game is close, but UCONN can also shoot well from the charity stripe, so they likely won’t be flustered.
It’s hard to bet against the Hurricanes with how resilient they’ve been in the NCAA Tournament, but the luck has to run out at some point. With the spread at only 5.5, it’s a narrow needle to thread to have Miami cover but lose, so there is a bit more wiggle room if you want to take the over.
The over is 7-3 in NCAA tournament games that head coach Dan Hurley has coached in, and Miami has a dangerous and efficient offense that should be able to allow them to put points up on the board.
Best Bet: OVER 149 (-110)
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