Picks, Breakdowns And Every Single Damn Thing You Need For Tonight's San Diego State/UConn National Title Game
Here we go. Last game of the year. I hate it. I never want college basketball to end. It's a long, long wait from tonight until the start of November. I don't care for it one bit. It's one of the weirder national title games in recent memory, but one that we deserve. We have a David vs Goliath. We have the name brand of UConn vs San Diego State playing for its first title. We have two different styles of play. Anyways, we'll have a full breakdown right here in the blog.
Want to get the juices flowing? Here are some videos from the teams
UConn: Tristen Newton, Jordan Hawkins, Alex Karaban, Andre Jackson, Adama Sanogo
San Diego State: Darrion Trammell, Lamont Butler, Matt Bradley, Keshad Johnson, Nathan Mensah
San Diego State
We know what SDSU is built on. Defense - most notably how they close out on 3pt shooters. They are an elite 3pt defense because it's controlled close out, hand up. It's what Dutcher preaches and it's how they really got here. On top of that they are going to apply a ton of pressure and their guards are physical as hell. They actually match up well with size, Mensah inside and bigger guards/wings outside of Trammell. They want to make offenses uncomfortable. They'll drop Mensah in coverage, daring teams to try and attack the MWC DPOY at the rim or settle for a midrange. Offensively, we know it can be ugly. Dutcher has to decide if he plays LeDee with Mensah or if he goes true bench with LeDee and Arop. There's no doubt that LeDee is a way better offensive player than Mensah but you lose defense. They'll look to attack and get midrange shots. It's weird, but it works. They look to get into ISO sets and take advantage there. We saw Bradley be the star against FAU, hitting some threes early to open the offense up.
Where's the weakness for UConn? Andre Jackson is the lone non-shooter in the starting 5 on offense. Back in December and January this was important because teams Rondo'd him and dared him to shoot wide open threes. We saw what happens when Gonzaga tried that. Jackson didn't settle, took a couple dribbles and attacked Timme at the rim or turned into a playmaker. UConn is an elite offensive rebounding team, 2nd in the country. You can play through Sanogo, you can let him attack the glass, you can also let him be a passing big. We know Hawkins is an elite shooter. It feels like Karaban hits every big, dagger shot. On defense they drop Sanogo/Clingan to protect the rim. That was effective against Miami who couldn't make a layup because it was always contested. SDSU has to take advantage of UConn's bench guards, who can get beat defensively. But this starting 5 is as elite as it gets on the defensive side of the ball.
1. Jordan Hawkins' health - He looked fine on the court against Miami after battling bubble guts/food poison from bad calamari. But he played limited minutes. Part of it was UConn in control of the game, part of it was his endurance. We're 48 hours removed from that. He's going to play. It's just do you get close to 100% Hawkins? If so, that's a complete game changer, especially with his shot making and transition play.
2. Officiating - I hate to bring it up, but we have to. SDSU wants to be physical. They want to beat you up. Refs should let some cheap fouls go. Let them be a little physical. If they don't, SDSU is in trouble right away. It all depends on how consistent the refs are with foul calls.
3. UConn's turnovers - This is probably the biggest weakness for UConn. They are 236th in the country in turnover percentage. It popped up some against Miami, giving up easy buckets and making it close early and even giving Miami a run in the second half. Most of the turnovers are live turnovers too. You can't give SDSU easy points when their offense struggles.
4. Who is the unexpected star? - It seems like every Final we get the name no one talks about who gets 10+ points and seems to hit every big shot. For UConn it's likely Karaban. He's a bit of the weak link for UConn's defense. But if he hits shots early and stretches SDSU's defense out, that opens up more for Sanogo in the paint. SDSU, they don't get much offense from Keshad Johnson or Arop despite being key parts for them. They could steal points there. But I'm looking at Micah Parrish or Adam Seiko. Those are the two best shooters for SDSU.
5. Pushing the lead - If UConn gets up early, they have to do what they've done all tournament. Kick the shit out of teams the first 5 minutes of the 2nd half. SDSU has done the opposite. They just hang around, use a run in the 2nd half and then hit enough shots to win. This line is 7.5 for a reason. UConn should be a heavy favorite. But if they let SDSU hang around, that's a game the Aztecs are comfortable with.
122-103-3 (+23.48) on the year on Twitter, mind as well add it to the blog
30-20 (+11.23) in the NCAA Tournament
SDSU +7.5 -108
Darrion Trammell U8.5 points +120
Alex Karaban O 1.5 3s +138
Jaedon LeDee O14 P/R/A +100
Tristen Newton O4.5 Assists -124
Reasoning: While I think UConn wins this game, I'm going to take the points. SDSU has found a way to hang around every game. Maybe it's the turnovers today, maybe it's Bradley hitting shots. But 7.5 is too much for me not to take them. On the flip side that under has been bet down so much that I want to take the over. I don't think UConn's offense will struggle as much as others against SDSU. While also SDSU's midrange shots should be there against UConn. They are comfortable taking that. Took a couple player props. Trammell, while being awesome, is streaky. He'll have to shoot over size tonight so I'm tkaing his under. LeDee I'm taking over because he should get more minutes and can exploit a mismatch. Karaban, the man just seems to always hit shots.