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No. 3 Arizona vs. No. 1 UConn preview, picks for 2021 NCAA Women’s Final Four

The Arizona Wildcats and UConn Huskies meet at the Alamodome in the Final Four round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

Connecticut Huskies players dump confetti on head coach Geno Auriemma after defeating the Baylor Lady Bears in the Elite Eight of the 2021 Women’s NCAA Tournament at Alamodome. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 3 Arizona Wildcats pulled out a victory for their first NCAA Final Four, while the UConn Huskies are making their 22nd appearance in the event, and 13th overall. The game will take tip-off Friday, April 2nd at 9:30 p.m., with the broadcast carried on ESPN.

We take a bit of a deeper dive into the numbers below, and will add the odds from DraftKings Sportsbook when they become available.

No. 3 Arizona 20-5 (13-4 Pac-12)

First Round: Defeated No. 14 Stony Brook 79-44
Second Round: Defeated No. 11 BYU 52-46
Third Round: Defeated No. 2 Texas A&M 74-59
Elite Eight: Defeated No. 4 Indiana 66-53
Leading scorer: Aari McDonald (20.3 ppg)
Key stat of tournament: McDonald has 111 points and 27 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament.

All the focus in this tournament has been on other great players such as the one you’ll read about below, Caitlin Clark of Iowa, Ashley Owusu of Maryland and more. But the star of the event might be McDonald, who has been an absolute beast so far. She had 33 points on 12-20 from the field Monday night, including 5-6 from three-point range. For a player that’s shooting just 29.6% from deep this season, that’s stepping up when needed.

The Wildcats have held opponents to just 30.6% from downtown all year, and force 17.9 turnovers per game. They’ll have their toughest test defensively on Friday night however, with what might be the best team remaining in the country able to score from all five positions.

The only team that’s close on talent in terms of what U of A has seen is currently No. 2-ranked Stanford, who beat them 62-48 in Palo Alto on February 22nd.

No. 1 UConn 28-1 (18-0 Big East)

First Round: Defeated No. 16 High Point 102-59
Second Round: Defeated No. 8 Syracuse 83-47
Third Round: Defeated No. 5 Iowa 92-72
Elite Eight: Defeated No. 2 Baylor 69-67
Leading scorer: Paige Bueckers (19.8 ppg)
Key stat: UConn has a scoring margin of +31.7 on the season.

We’re going to start with some very deep, thoughtful analysis here: Paige Bueckers is really, really good at basketball.

But the superstar freshman isn’t the only reason the Huskies squeaked by Baylor on Monday night, and have only lost one game all season. They shoot 51.6% from the floor as a team, while holding opponents to a stifling 33.5% from the field. They’ve gathered 10 rebounds per game more than their opponents. And they can play in the open floor as well as any team in women’s basketball.

And that’s pretty helpful when there’s not a single senior on the roster for Geno Auriemma this season. Baylor’s COVID-19 pause led to a resume that had them only worthy of a No. 2 seed, but they might have been the best team left in this tournament. With them out of the way, shutting down McDonald might be the only thing between the Huskies and their 12th national championship.

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Point spread: UConn -13.5
Point total: 127.0
Moneyline: UConn -1115, Arizona +600

It’s just really hard to pick against the balance of the Huskies here. It would take an outstanding performance from McDonald to keep Arizona in it, and Geno Auriemma is well-known for taking away first options whenever possible. We’ll take the Huskies in a high-scoring matchup.

The pick

UConn -13.5, Over 127

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