March Madness Final Four Preview

By Mark Fordham
 |  4 mins
8E3DFB6F-93D4-478C-99D9-112C2BB6C04E  Fact Checked by Charlie Mullan
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March Madness Final Four Preview

The 2023 Men’s NCAA champion will be crowned in less than a week’s time. One of the San Diego State Aztecs, Florida Atlantic Owls, Miami Hurricanes and UConn Huskies will end this season as champions in the coming days, and it’s unlikely many of those teams would have been your college basketball picks before March Madness began.

Only two of them will make it to the championship game, and this piece will look at which teams they might be, who the key players are, the type of matchups we’re looking at and the key factors that will decide the games. Let’s now get down to it to help you make the right calls on your US betting apps.

San Diego Aztecs vs. Florida Atlantic Owls 

San Diego State Aztecs and the Florida Atlantic Owls (FAU) have proven themselves to be the best of the South and the East this season. For the Aztecs, this is a second shot at glory; they were many people’s fancies to win it all at college basketball betting sites during the 2019-2020 season, but COVID-19 led to the season’s cancellation. The Owls head into this tie with the best win/loss record; they’ve lost just three matches all season. 

San Diego State’s most impressive win was the 71-64 victory over tournament favorites Alabama in the Sweet 16. FAU, on the other hand, toppled two big teams in the last two rounds: Tennessee and Kansas State. Every team in the Final Four has taken some big scalps along the way, so we’ll need to look at other factors that’ll come into play for these two big games. 

Key players

The Aztecs’ selfless style is a big part of the reason why they’ve got so far; picking one player would, in many ways, go against everything they stand for. If we have to pick one player from the Aztecs who could be worth a look in your college basketball player props, it’s got to be Darrion Trammell. He showed up against Alabama with 21 points, and they’ll need a similar performance from him if they want to win this tie. Matt Bradley and Lamont Butler also deserve a mention. Johnell Davis has been a critical player for FAU. He has upped his game in the NCAA tournament with 17.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Vladislav Goldin also deserves a mention for his excellent showing against Kansas State. 


The two sides couldn’t be more different. San Diego like to play games at a slower pace and wear the opposition down. In stark contrast, FAU like to move the ball quickly and use their bench more than most teams; nine of their players have averaged 15 minutes per game this season. FAU are one of the best three-point shooting teams in the tournament, and San Diego are the best at defending three-point shooting teams. It’ll be extremely fascinating to see how this one plays out, and USA sports betting sites are having a hard time picking a favorite for the matchup at this point.

Keys to winning

FAU have to constantly use their bench options to refresh the squad. San Diego are a difficult team to play against; if they get control of the early game, it’ll be very difficult for FAU to catch up. 

If FAU make a flying start, half the job will be done. San Diego aren’t the best shooting side, so they’ll struggle to catch up if FAU starts well. FAU look like they have many of the tools to catch San Diego off guard, but so much depends on how they start the game. 

Miami Hurricanes vs. UConn Huskies

Both programs have accomplished some spectacular results to get to the Final Four. The winner of this match will undoubtedly head into the championship game as the favorite to win the tournament with sportsbooks. The UConn Huskies stunned the college basketball world with their 82-54 demolition job of Gonzaga in the Elite Eight. They have won every March Madness matchup by a margin of 15 points or more. 

The Miami Hurricanes have been the giant killers of the tournament. They’ve beaten higher ranked teams in Indiana, Houston and Texas to get this far. UConn are an excellent side, but Miami fear no one. It’s hard to pick whose accomplishments this season are more impressive. This looks like the more exciting of the two Final Four games, so let’s look at why that is the case. 

Key players

Four of Miami’s players have averaged 13 points or above this season. Picking one in a team with many excellent contributors is no easy task, but it’s hard to look past Norchad Omier. Omier will have his hands full with Adama Sanogo and Donovan Clingan this week. The 6’7” center has surprised everyone with his performances this season. Despite his lack of size, he has been one of the league’s best rebounders; he has averaged 10.1 per game. 

Picking a key player for UConn is a much simpler task. Adama Sanogo has been one of the league’s most devastating players, averaging 17.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He’s stepped up in the tournament with 19.8 points and 10 rebounds in the five games. Jordan Hawkins deserves an honorable mention; he has averaged 22 points per game in his last two outings. 


As hinted at earlier, Omier will have his toughest game of the season. He handled Trayce Jackson-Davis expertly in the second round, but going up against two big men in the post is a tall order. He’ll need help, and this might unbalance the Hurricanes. Miami aren’t the best defensive side to begin with, so this is a glaring issue. They make up for it with their offensive versatility. They have four players capable of wreaking havoc on any given day, and the likes of Indiana, Texas and Houston have failed to stop them. UConn have a strong defensive scheme that forces teams to enter the post, but Miami have too many scorers to fall into that trap. 

Keys to winning

UConn have something nearing the complete lineup. The only question marks surround Hawkins, who isn’t a traditional point guard. UConn have adjusted by letting Andre Jackson take some playmaking duties. If Miami can target this weakness, they might just accomplish their fourth tournament upset. To be fair to Miami, calling another well-worked win an upset would be unfair, even if they comfortable underdogs with most betting sites at present.

Miami have to believe in their offensive power. UConn are an excellent defensive team, but there’s no stopping a program with so many avenues for points. If Miami’s offense clicks, the defense can rest easy. 

Mark spent over a decade as a sports reporter and editor with and Bleacher Report. He is now a Content Editor at covering all manner of sports from the Premier League and cricket to the NBA and NFL.

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