March Madness predictions: UConn vs. Alabama picks, odds, bets for Final Four

Connecticut didn’t have the smoothest travel across the country, going from the East Coast to Phoenix for their Final Four matchup against Alabama. 

Because of mechanical issues, an early evening flight on Wednesday turned into a middle-of-the-night arrival, throwing off their sleep cycle.

Could they come out a little sluggish in their Final Four game against the Crimson Tide?

I’m hoping so because of a prop I have identified with a potential big payout.

Final Four preview: No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 1 UConn

The Huskies are playing at the highest level a team can possibly play in the NCAA Tournament.

They’ve led by 30 points in every game during their run and are coming off a jaw-dropping 30-0 run against Illinois in the Elite Eight. 

KenPom, Bart Torvik and Haslametrics all rank Dan Hurley’s offense as the nation’s best.

And Donovan Clingan has been playing at a high enough level to suddenly warrant top-five consideration in this summer’s NBA Draft. 

So, why step in front of this UConn locomotive? Three-point variance, plain and simple.

Donovan Clingan #32 of the Connecticut Huskies reacts against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the second half in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
Donovan Clingan #32 of the Connecticut Huskies reacts against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the second half in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Getty Images

Alabama bombs away from 3-point range, taking more than 30 triples per game and knocking them down at a 37.1% clip (21st).

The Tide have used the 3-point shot to trigger 30 Kill Shot runs (10-0 or better) this season. 

They have also come out of the starting blocks hot all season – they are second nationally in first-half points per game (42.6). 

In a smaller sample size – the first half, for example – each made 3 carries more weight.

If Alabama can connect on five or six in the first 20 minutes, I think they’re a live dog to enter the locker room with the lead.

Betting on March Madness 2024?

If that were to happen, it’s up to UConn to put Alabama away late, and I have supreme confidence in Hurley’s bunch doing just that. UConn enters as the nation’s top second-half team, flexing an average scoring margin of +8.4. 

The Crimson Tide are made for tense, half-court grinds because they’re so sound on both ends of the floor. Defensively, they lead the country in At-the-Rim’ points per possession defense (0.94). 

Their drop defensive scheme centers around Clingan patrolling the lane, forcing opponents into two-point jumpers.

And the Huskies’ lockdown defense (second in 2P%, 28th in 3P% D) has been even better in the tournament; they just put the shackles on Illinois, which entered as a consensus top-five offense. 

When it comes to putting the ball in the basket, UConn’s pattern-motion offense utilizes stagger screens better than any team in the country, which helps create open looks on the perimeter.

When those shots aren’t falling, they seamlessly pivot to more pick-and-roll and slip screens, creating higher percentage shots near the rim. 

Suffice it to say, Hurley’s offense has an answer for anything Alabama is preparing to throw at it. 

So, if we do get Alabama leading by one to two possessions at the break, instead of a live number in the even money to UConn +150 range, we’ll be holding a +600 monster of a ticket. Sign me up for that. 

The Bet: Alabama wins first half + UConn wins game (+600, FanDuel)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *