For the first time in NCAA Tournament history, there’ll be no one, two or three seeds in the Final Four, and UConn is the only past champion in the Final Four. The 2023 NCAA Tournament has been far from predictable and may give us a surprising champion with three games remaining.
Saturday, April 1
No. 5 San Diego State vs No. 9 Florida Atlantic
The cinderella of Flordia Atlantic keeps finding a way to victory and finds themselves one game away from playing in the National Championship. The Owls have trailed in the final 10 minutes of each game but have relied on their shooting and depth to steal victories. Many thought FAU should’ve been seeded higher when the bracket was revealed, as the Owls were 31-3. Now that’s an afterthought as one of the best overall teams remaining, led by Johnell Davis, averaging 17.3 points and 7.8 rebounds in the tournament. What stands in the way of the Owls is another mid-major in San Diego State, as the best defensive team remaining has shut down every offense they’ve played in, allowing 57.3 points in the tournament. The Aztecs have rarely played from behind, as no team has been able to stretch a large enough lead to eliminate San Diego State. Offensively, the Aztecs have relied on physical playing to get to the line and score tough baskets. This game’s outcome will depend on if the Aztecs can again shut down their opponent’s offense because once San Diego State is down by double digits, look out for the Owls to run away down the stretch.
Prediction: Flordia Atlantic
No. 4 UConn vs No. 5 Miami
The National Champion favorite in UConn has dominated each of their opponents with double-digit victories to reach the Final Four. The Huskies were undefeated to start the season and remained a perfect 15-0 in non-conference games. UConn ranks second in the nation in rebound margin and will likely dominate the rebounding game against the smaller Hurricanes. It’s hard to find a weakness on this UConn team as it’s led by Adama Sanogo, who averaged 20 points and 9.8 rebounds in the tournament. The Huskies have also been a buzzsaw against any non-defensive team and will have the opportunity to show their dominance again against the fast-paced offensive Hurricanes. In the tournament, the Huskies have scored from inside the paint and rain from beyond the arc, as Jordan Hawkins is shooting 52% from three. Their opponent, the Miami Hurricanes, is playing red hot on offense scoring 80+ in three straight games. Nijel Pack has led them, but Isaiah Wong, Jordan Miller and Norchad Omier have all also had standout performances in the tournament. This game will come down to whether the Hurricanes can break the UConn defense and turn this game into a track meet where the Hurricanes can score 80+.
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