The Mayhem of March – The Natty

April 8, 2024

NCAAM: (1) Purdue vs. (1) UConn

9:20 p.m. ET, TBS

UConn -6.5 (-110) | O/U 145 (-110)

Joe Rondone/Arizona Republic-USA TODAY Sports

March Madness comes to a close tonight in Arizona, as Purdue and UConn will face off in a highly anticipated matchup between two of the top schools in the country. It’s a battle of titans, with a pair of No. 1 seeds facing off for the title.

Purdue’s Zach Edey and UConn’s Donovan Clingan, both seven-footers, will face off for the first time this season. Both are expected to be first-round picks in this year’s NBA Draft and they will definitely be the matchup to watch.

Edey is the top scorer in the country this season, averaging 24.9 points per game, while Clingan only averages 13.1. However, both players have improved on those averages throughout the NCAA Tournament.

Clingan is averaging 16.2 PPG throughout the big dance and Edey is averaging 28.0. The Purdue center is also averaging 15.4 rebounds per game during the Boilermakers five-game run to the title tilt. Standing at 7-foot4, it’s easy to see why. However, Clingan could provide an unforeseen defensive matchup.

Edey is one of the best players in the country and will probably be the best player on the floor Monday night, but the Huskies are still favored by a considerable margin of 6.5 points. This is due to their balance.

Every starter for UConn averages over 11.0 points and 4.5 rebounds. Tristan Newton leads the way with 14.9 PPG, but the scoring difference between him and Stephon Castle (the lowest scoring starter) is only 3.9 points.

The Huskies average 81.6 PPG and only give up just 63.5. The 18.1-point margin is impressive, but they have been even better during March Madness. Over the course of their five tournament games, they have won by an average of 25.0 points per game. Their lowest margin of victory was 14 and they have trailed for only four minutes and 46 seconds. The Huskies have won their last 11 March madness games by double digits.

The Boilermakers are looking to be the second team to go from zero to hero. After losing to No. 16-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson in the first round of last year’s tournament, they will now have a chance to redeem themselves. Virginia did in the same thing in 2019 after becoming the first No. 1 to lose to a No. 16 the year before.

But that 2019 Virginia team didn’t have to go through an opponent like UConn. The Huskies are a generational team that could be the first team to win back-to-back championships since the Florida Gators in ‘06 and ‘07. They have it all. Size, strength, poise and most of all, experience.

Hoops Harlan’s Pick: UConn -6.5 (-110) 

The Boilermakers got a gift with N.C. State in the Final Four, as the No. 11-seeded Wolfpack were a relatively easy semifinal foe. Nonetheless, it took a 40-point game from Edey to beat the Volunteers. The Huskies defense and the size of Donovan Clingan underneath will just be too much for Edey and company to handle. Take UConn with the spread; they’re winning their 12th-straight by double digits on Monday night