When: 5:49 p.m. PDT
How to watch: CBS; MarchMadness.com; Paramount+
Zachary Cohen: Miami is one of the most impressive offensive teams in the nation, as the Hurricanes are fifth in college basketball in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric.
However, UConn is 11th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, and the Huskies happen to be 16-6 ATS when facing teams that shoot at least 45% from the floor this season.
UConn has won those games by an average of 10.8 PPG, so Dan Hurley’s team hasn’t had much trouble beating up on opponents that can score the basketball. The Huskies are also 18-9 ATS when facing teams with winning records this year, and they have beaten those opponents by an average of 10.1 PPG.
This UConn team is just built differently than a lot of other programs, with Adama Sanogo a grown man in the paint. The Hurricanes don’t have anybody quite like him, and his physicality should be a problem for Miami — even for Norchad Omier.
The same goes for the length the Huskies have throughout their rotation. UConn doesn’t play many undersized players, which should help the team get out and contest every shot from Isaiah Wong, Nijel Pack and Jordan Miller.
This also seems like a game that Jordan Hawkins should thrive in. The Hurricanes don’t defend the perimeter at all, so Hawkins is going to get some good looks from deep. Don’t be surprised if he goes for at least 20 points and hits some threes.
🏀 Pick: Connecticut -5.5
Adam Burke: I’m inherently skeptical about expecting a lot of points in a game played in a football stadium. In fact, it’s part of the reason why I like San Diego State. However, this game between Miami and UConn is a lot different and I think we should get a back-and-forth, high-scoring thriller.
UConn’s best attribute throughout the tournament has been its size. The Huskies don’t have a traditional point guard, but virtually everyone that plays important minutes is 6-foot-5 or taller and contributes on both ends of the floor. Against Miami’s quick guards, I’m not sure that the size will have as much of an impact as it has had against teams like Gonzaga and Arkansas. Of course, the Razorbacks missed a bunch of decent looks and were 15 of 47 from two-point range in that game, so they could’ve at least held up their end of the scoring bargain.
Miami should be able to get some dribble penetration here and Jim Larrañaga is well aware that he should try to play in transition and kick up the pace as much as possible. In this tournament, Miami has scored at least 1.219 points per possession against Indiana, Houston and Texas, all regarded as quality defensive teams. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Hurricanes can get over a point per possession on UConn because of their quickness.
I also wouldn’t be shocked if UConn’s offensive barrage continues. Miami is 243rd in 2P% defense and 132nd in 3P% defense. You can absolutely score on this team and UConn has been extremely efficient on offense since mid-January, including four games of at least 1.117 PPP in the NCAA tournament.
The Huskies should get a lot of offensive rebounds in this game to increase their probability of scoring points. I think Miami will get open looks because of how they share the ball and their quickness off the bounce. The Hurricanes also aren’t as three-happy as some teams with a three-point rate of 34.3%. They are capable of getting higher-percentage looks than that, much like they did against Texas in a game where they had just eight three-point attempts.
🏀 Pick: Over 149
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