The national championship game of the 2023 NCAA Tournament will tip off tonight as the No. 4 UConn Huskies will battle the No. 5 San Diego Aztecs. The game will take place at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, with the tip set for 9:20 p.m. ET on TBS.
Let’s run through this matchup and see how this will play out.
UConn-San Diego State Men’s National Championship Game Prediction
UConn enters the game as a 7.5-point favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook with the total installed at 132.5. That means Vegas is expecting the Huskies to crack the 70s on offense and win the game by a comfortable margin.
A huge reason for that has been UConn’s dominance on both ends of the floor throughout the tournament. The Huskies' pressure man defense has discombobulated opposing offenses throughout March and they’ve held their five opponents to a combined 35% shooting from the field. This has led to the likes of Adama Sonogo and Jordan Hawkins getting good looks on the other end of the floor. Combine that with them having the second-best offensive rebound percentage in the nation and you can see why opponents have fallen into a hole quickly. Prior to tonight’s contest, UConn has won all five of its NCAA Tournament games by at least 13 points.
San Diego State will have its hands full, but can also muck things up for opponents on the defensive end of the floor. The Aztecs have the fourth-ranked defense in adjusted efficiency per KenPom and have held three of its five tournament opponents to under 33% shooting. FAU was able to drain nine threes against them on Saturday and that was more of an anomaly as the Aztecs typically force opponents to play in a phone booth on the inside. At 6’10”, it will be crucial for Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year Nathan Mensah to crash the boards and make his presence felt in the paint.
San Diego State’s path to a win here is matching the defensive intensity that UConn will bring and staying within striking distance of the Huskies. We’ve seen the Aztecs thrive in tight ballgames throughout the tournament and as long as they’re within single digits late, they have a chance. However, I don’t see that happening. The Huskies are a well-oiled machine right now and it’s hard to imagine them suddenly struggling on the biggest stage. On top of their defense, they have a significant size advantage in this matchup and they should wear on San Diego State in the second half.
Prediction: UConn 73, San Diego State 60