March Madness: UConn Leads 2023 Final Four as the Betting Favorite

In one of the most exciting and electric NCAA men’s college basketball tournaments in the last 25 years, the 2023 Final Four is set. UConn is DraftKings’ betting favorite to win the “March Madness” championship at -125 odds, and the Huskies are ahead of San Diego State at +380, Miami at +475, and Florida Atlantic (FAU) at +650.

UConn March Madness championship odds Final Four 4 FAU Miami San Diego State basketball college
UConn guard Jordan Hawkins celebrates a victory against Gonzaga in the 2023 March Madness regional final at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Image: USA Today Sports)

All four regional winners head to Houston, Texas this weekend for Final Four festivities. The semifinals begin on Saturday, and the national championship game takes place on Monday night.

The San Diego State Aztecs won the South Regional with the #5 seed, and the FAU Owls won the East Regional as the #9 seed. San Diego State opened as a -1.5 favorite against FAU, but the line is currently -2.

The UConn Huskies won the West Regional as the #4 seed, and the Miami Hurricanes won the Midwest Regional as the #5 seed. UConn opened the Final Four as a -5.5 favorite over Miami.

This was an unusual year in March Madness because a #12 seed didn’t upset a #5 seed in the opening round. Since 1985, the #12 seed has pulled off a first-round upset 36% of the time. All four #5 seeds advanced to the second round, including Miami and San Diego State.

UConn -125

UConn finished the regular season with a 24-7 record and went 13-7 in the rough and tumble Big East. They were ranked #10 in the AP Poll at the end of the season, but were knocked out of the Big East conference tournament in the semifinals.

UConn earned the #4 seed in the West Regional as an at-large team, and DraftKings opened the Huskies at +1600 odds to win March Madness.

Despite unsavory hotel accommodations in Las Vegas, UConn held off Rick Pitino and #13 Iona with a 24-point victory in the first round. UConn squared off against #4 St. Mary’s in the second round and advanced with a 15-point victory. In the Sweet 16, UConn defeated #8 Arkansas by 23 points. In the Elite 8, UConn blew out #3 Gonzaga by 28 points.

UConn pulled off an impressive feat and won all four games in March Madness by double digits, including the shellacking against Gonzaga to advance to the Final Four.

UConn was one of the premier betting teams in the NCAA this season. They were ranked third overall with a 25-11-1 record against the spread. They covered all four games in March Madness and they have a 9-1 ATS record in their last 10 games.

UConn enters the Final Four as the consensus best team remaining, which is why they’re also the betting favorite at -125 odds to win March Madness.

At the start of the Sweet 16, UConn was +900 odds to win the championship. They improved to +900 in the Sweet 16, and +320 odds in the Elite 8.


San Diego State +380

San Diego State ended the regular season with a 24-6 record and was ranked #18, according to the AP Poll. The Aztecs led the Mountain West with a 15-3 record and ran the table to win their conference tournament. Heading into March Madness, they were awarded the #5 seed in the South Regional.

Mountain West teams struggled in March Madness in recent years, with an 0-9 record in the opening round heading into this year’s tournament. San Diego State got their entire conference off the schneid with a 6-point victory against #12 Charleston, avoiding a #12 vs. #5 upset.

In the second round, San Diego State blew out #13 Furman with a 23-point win. In the Sweet 16, San Diego State stunned #1 Alabama with a 7-point victory. Their march to the Final Four continued after San Diego State edged out #6 Creighton in a one-point thriller in the Elite 8.

At the start of March Madness, San Diego State was +6000 odds to win the championship. Their odds gradually improved to +3500 in the Sweet 16, and +900 in the Elite 8. You can back San Diego State right now at +380 odds to win March Madness as the second favorite on the board behind UConn.

San Diego State struggled to cover the spread this season with a 19-15-2 record. They’re on a 6-0 clip and covered all four games in March Madness.


Miami +475

Head coach Jim Larranaga is best known for guiding George Mason to the 2006 Final Four. George Mason was the Cinderella story that season as the #11 seed.

Miami hired Larranaga 12 years ago in hopes he could turn around the hoops program at a school that’s best known for its prowess on the gridiron. In the 2022 March Madness tournament, Larranaga led Miami to an appearance in the Elite 8. The Hurricanes headed into this season with a specific mission to reach the Final Four.

Miami finished the regular season with a 24-6 record. They topped the ACC with a 15-5 record, but lost in the conference tournament semifinals to Duke. They were ranked #16 in the AP Poll heading into March Madness. As an at-large team, Miami earned a #5 seed in the Midwest Regional.

Miami avoided an opening-round upset against #12 Drake and defeated #4 Indiana by 16 points in the second round. Miami pulled off a 6-point upset over #1 Houston in the Sweet 16. Their run continued with a 7-point victory against #2 Texas in the Elite 8.

Miami was only 22-14 ATS this season, but they covered the spread in all four tournament games, including big wins against Houston and Texas.

Miami entered March Madness at +4000 odds to win the championship. Their odds sunk to +4500 at the start of the Sweet 16, but jumped to +1100 odds in the Elite 8. If you want to back Miami to win March Madness, the Hurricanes offer up tremendous value at +475 odds.


FAU +650

A deep run in March Madness will put your school on the map. That’s the case with Boca Raton’s FAU, which very few people knew about until the tournament began.

FAU finished the regular season with a 28-3 record under head coach Dusty May. The Owls were the best team in Conference USA with an 18-2 record, and won the conference tournament with three victories in three days. FAU was ranked #25 in the nation in the AP Poll, but they were only awarded the #8 seed in the East Regional. The Owls ignored the slight because they were happy to make their first trip to March Madness in 21 years.

FAU squeaked by #9 Memphis with a 1-point victory in the first round. They picked off this year’s Cinderella with an 8-point win against #16 FDU in the second round. They knocked off #4 Tennessee in the Sweet 16 and continued their epic run with a 3-point victory against #3 Kansas State in the Elite 8.

FAU was the fifth-best betting team in the country with a 24-11-1 ATS record. They went 3-1 ATS in March Madness when they failed to cover against FDU.

FAU began March Madness as a long shot to win the tournament at +20000 odds. They were still fairly long at +4500 odds when the Sweet 16 began, and were only +1300 odds heading into the Elite 8. Now that the Final Four is set, FAU is the long shot on the board at +650 odds to win March Madness.


Busting Brackets in 2023

For the first time since March Madness expanded to 64 teams, not a single #1 seed advanced to the Elite 8.

Purdue was the first #1 seed to topple. The Boilermakers fell in the first round when they were upset by #16 FDU. It was only the second time in March Madness history that a #16 seed picked off a #1.

Kansas was the second #1 seed to meet their fate when #8 Arkansas took out the Jayhawks in the second round.

Although #1 seeds Alabama and Houston advanced to the Sweet 16, both teams were knocked out after they ran into red-hot #5 seeds. Miami steamrolled Houston by 14 points in the Midwest Regional semifinals. San Diego State stunned Alabama with a 7-point win in the South Regional semifinals.

If you participated in a March Madness pool with friends or played in an office pool, then you’re aware of this year’s carnage. ESPN attracted 2 million entries in their Men’s Tournament Challenge this year. Only 37 entries correctly picked the Final Four teams on their brackets, which includes one #4 seed, two #5 seeds, and a #9 seed.

Out of all Final Four teams, UConn was the most popular pick to win the championship, with 2.4% of all ESPN participants selecting the Huskies. Only 0.5% of all ESPN brackets picked Miami to win the championship.

San Diego State backers selected the Aztecs to win in only 0.3% of ESPN’s pool while FAU was picked to win the championship in less than 0.1% out of the two million entries at ESPN.

It’s safe to assume that diehard alumni were among the few entrants at ESPN who picked Miami, San Diego State, or FAU to win March Madness.

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