2023 Men’s Final Four Preview

Just like that, we’re down to The Final Four. The NCAA Tournament has been one for the ages and we’re destined to see more madness in Houston this weekend. Three of the four participating teams are making their first-ever Final Four appearance. UConn on the other hand is here for the fifth time in program history and amazingly, has won the National Championship in all of the previous four. Here is a quick Final Four Preview to get you ready for the tip in Houston.

2023 Men’s Final Four Preview

The 2023 Final Four tips off this Saturday, April 1st at 6:09 PM Est from NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. 

This year’s group of teams is unlike any we’ve seen in recent past. It’s the first Final Four without a No. 1 seed since 2011 where, yup, UConn was the highest-seeded team and champion as a 3 seed. Even more astounding, or awesome if you ask this college hoops junkie, is that this is the first time since 1970 that we’ll have three first-time participants in the Final Four.

Men’s Final Four Tale of the Tape

None of these teams got here by accident, however. All four finished the regular season ranked inside the Top 25 in the AP Poll. All four are currently ranked as top 25 teams according to Kenpom. And outside of the least surprising team UConn, the other three all won their regular season conference championship. FAU and SDSU won their conference tournaments as well.

South Region: San Diego State 31-6 (15-3, 1st – Mountain West)

The Aztecs pride themselves on intense and physical defense. While boasting a true 9-man rotation that had only one player (Matt Bradley) average over 10 points per game this year. They stake claim to the best defensive rating (4th nationally) among the Final Four teams according to Kenpom. They also have held their four NCAA Tournament opponents under their season scoring totals by a ridiculous average of 22.5 points.

My hometown Aztecs were the benefactor of a very polarizing foul call against Creighton in the Elite 8. But no matter how they’ve gotten here, they are built for those types of situations and have the most experienced group of the remaining teams.

How they got to Houston:

RoundOpponentWinning Score
First12 College of Charleston63 – 57
Second13 Furman75 – 52
Sweet 161 Alabama71 – 64
Elite 86 Creighton57 – 56

East Region: Florida Atlantic 35-3 (18-2, 1st – C-USA)

Hoot Hoot! The Owls of FAU were one of just four teams to win 30+ games during the regular and conference championship season. They are riding an 11-game winning streak ahead of the Final Four. And just like San Diego State, they play with a legit 9-man rotation.

The pride of Boca Raton is a very difficult guard as they roster five players who shoot over 34% from deep. They have three guys who average over 10 points per contest. And although they play with four guards on the floor most of the time, they are a top 10 defensive rebounding team on the year. Johnell Davis may be recognized as their top player, but Florida Atlantic is a true team that can beat you in many ways.

How they got to Houston:  

RoundOpponentWinning Score
First8 Memphis66 – 65
Second16 Fairleigh Dickinson78 – 70
Sweet 164 Tennessee62 – 55
Elite 83 Kansas State79 – 76

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Midwest Region: Miami 29-7 (15-5, 1st – ACC)

Watch out, here come the Hurricanes! Miami came into March losers of two of their last four games, and out of an ACC that most would agree had a down year. Defense is not one of their strong suits, but Miami can blow past you in a hurry if you’re not careful. The Hurricanes averaged 79.6 points per game this season and have become a full-fledged level 5 storm during the tournament. They’ve dropped 85+ in their last three games; with the last two coming against defenses ranked 13th or better according to Kenpom.

Miami’s offense is led by the foursome of Isaiah Wong, Jordan Miller, Nijel Pack, and big man Norchad Omier who all average over 13 points/gm. At the eye of the storm is head coach Jim Larranaga who in my opinion, has the most awesome nickname “everyone’s favorite grandpa”. This team isn’t big, and they don’t play very good defense, but that hasn’t stopped them yet.

How they got to Houston:

RoundOpponentWinning Score
First12 Drake63 – 56
Second4 Indiana85 – 69
Sweet 161 Houston89 – 75
Elite 82 Texas88 – 81

West Region: Connecticut 29-8 (13-7, 4th – Big East)  

The Huskies are back in the Final Four and looking to stay perfect in winning the Championship when making it there. UConn’s 2022-23 season has been streaky, to say the least. But their strong finish entering March had them as a popular pick to make a deep tournament run.

UConn entered the madness with all the measurables of a title contender. They’re 3rd in AdjO and 11th in AdjD according to KenPom. They ranked top 35 in both points for and points against on the year. Dan Hurley’s team plays with a truly deep rotation, which seems to be a common thread of this Final Four. Lastly, in line with past Huskies championship teams, they have an outstanding guard in Jordan Hawkins while also having the Big East player of the year in big-man Adama Sanogo. 

How they got to Houston:

RoundOpponentWinning Score
First13 Iona87 – 63
Second5 Saint Mary’s70 – 55
Sweet 168 Arkansas88 – 65
Elite 83 Gonzaga82 – 54

We’ve never seen a Final Four quite like this and I for one absolutely love it! Enjoy the games from Houston this Saturday and Monday.

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Just a regular guy who absolutely loves sports. I've been playing, watching, and recreationally betting on sports for over 30 years. My favorite sports to attack at the sportsbook are Football (NFL/NCAAF), College Basketball, and most recently - the NASCAR Cup Series. I'm not an "expert" and I don't have or use betting models, but I do put in the research and apply that to my wagers which are mostly backed by the trending data with of course a little, as Gibbs from the show NCIS would say "Gut Feeling" contributing to the side chosen. Sports betting should be fun and enjoyable so always play within your means and NEVER chase your losses. You can follow me on Twitter @Brian_Twining - Let's try and win some bets!

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