March Madness Preview of the Final Four

Preview, prediction and picks for the 2024 NCAA Tournament Final Four games.

UConn is the odds-on favorite to repeat as National Champion

The 2024 NCAA men’s basketball tournament has once again delivered both great basketball as well as its share of March Madness drama. There haven’t been as many surprises as we’ve seen in past tourneys, but there is a No. 11 bullying its way into the Final Four. 

Final Four preview predictionThen, there’s the defending-champion Connecticut Huskies, the top-ranked team in the nation. UConn has rolled through its four games to date, remaining a strong favorite as the scene shifts to suburban Phoenix (Glendale, to be precise).

UConn is joined by the Alabama Crimson Tide, North Carolina State Wolfpack (that aforementioned 11-seed and Purdue Boilermakers.

Odds-on UConn

There are any number of wagering options when it comes to the Final Four, but trying to predict the champ is at the top of the list. Ahead of the national semifinals, here is the current board, according to NCAA men’s basketball championship odds.

 Connecticut Huskies  -210
 Purdue Boilermakers  +195
 Alabama Crimson Tide  +1600
 North Carolina St. Wolfpack  +1800

UConn has had a 30-point lead in each of its games in the tourney (Stetson, Northwestern, San Diego St. and Illinois), and it is going to take a huge effort to dethrone the Huskies.  UConn prediction National Championship odds

Purdue is just under 2-1 to win the title. It hasn’t made it this far since the Joe Barry Carroll days of 1980.  Purdue was also a regional No. 1 seed in these NCAAs, led by Player of the Year Zach Edey (40 points, 16 rebounds against Tennessee this past Sunday).

North Carolina State returns to the Final Four in their first visit since the improbable national title of 1983, with iconic coach Jimmy Valvano. Alabama, meanwhile, has never advanced this far. 

As one might expect, the Saturday spreads are quite large.

Wolfpack vs. Boilermakers

As not many folks had the North Carolina State Wolfpack getting this far, their pairing against the Purdue Boilermakers was an unforeseen one, With nine wins in row (including five in as many days to win the ACC tournament), they’re nothing, if not hot. 

Purdue March Madness Final Four predictionState has ridden both D.J. Burns and D.J. Horne to get this far, the pair with a combined 49 points as N.C. State used a big second half to dispose of conference rival Duke last Sunday.  

Purdue is a solid, nine-point favorite in this game (total at 146.5), with the play of Zach Edey the biggest reason the Boilermakers have thrived. Edey is a double-double machine this season. As was mentioned, he just dominated the Tennessee Volunteers in the Elite Eight. North Carolina State Wolfpack NCAA Tournament pick

Purdue, victims of a 1-16 stunner (against Fairleigh Dickinson) last season, has been on a mission. Edey will set the tone, but there are also some shooters (backcourt of Lance Jones, Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer).  While the ‘Pack should keep this close, Purdue to win is the way to go (moneyline is Purdue -430, North Carolina St. at +335.

Huskies vs. Crimson Tide

It’s the UConn Huskies going after consecutive national titles, with the newbie Alabama Crimson Tide next on the agenda. The second semifinal sees the Huskies as dozen-point favorites (total at 161.5), as per March Madness odds. Moneyline is UConn -820, ‘Bama at +570.

UConn is relying on its balance looking for a second straight title, with five players scoring in double figure, Donovan Clingan (22 points 10 rebounds, five blocked shots) was a force as the Huskies unleashed a halftime-wraparound 30-0 blitz of the Fighting Illini in their Elite Eight rout.

Alabama UConn free pickAlabama used 16 3-pointers to eventually put away a stubborn Clemson squad by seven. Mark Sears has seven of those threes. The Tide  has average 97 points in four games in this tourney. Grant Nelson had 24 points and 12 boards in the two-point win over North Carolina.  

UConn is monstrous on both ends of the floor (top 5 nationally in scoring defense and opponents’ field-goal percentage). The Huskies have the size to set the tone in the paint, but aren’t shy about playing on the perimeter. 

We’re not going against the champs. UConn is taken to blow out Alabama in this game. Lay the wood as the Huskies advance to earn a title date against Purdue.

Huskies to Repeat

While Purdue has the best player in the country in Zach Edey, UConn is stacked. It hasn’t been a fair fight thus far, as the Huskies have made a mockery of March Madness to date. 

The fact it’s now April is not relevant. Expect the Huskies to be a 7-to-9-point favorite against the Boilermakers. That’s not going to deter us, as this team is too good to be denied another title. 

In other words, they’re not only our choice to win the championship . . . they will cover the spread in each of their two final games to claim the National Championship.

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