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NCAA Championship Game Preview and Prediction: UConn, Purdue Meet Up For All the Marbles

Illinois v Connecticut

(Photo : (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)) BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – MARCH 30: Donovan Clingan #32, Stephon Castle #5 and Alex Karaban #11 of the Connecticut Huskies look on against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the second half in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at TD Garden on March 30, 2024 in Boston, Massachusetts.

We’ve made it all the way down from 68 teams to 2, and the Connecticut Huskies and Purdue Boilermakers are set to face off in the NCAA Tournament Championship game on Monday night in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Purdue started the Final Four off on Saturday with a wire-to-wire win over the Cinderella NC State Wolfpack, as Zach Edey got the Boilermakers a lead, and Purdue knocked down enough threes while playing great defense to keep the Pack at bay.

Alabama was able to keep up with UConn for a half in the nightcap, but the Huskies eventually pulled away despite the fact that Alabama got the hot shooting night from beyond the arc that it needed.

Now, we’ve got the chalkiest of chalky title games, as these two are the number one and two teams in the country in KenPom. 

Who will come out on top? Here’s analysis and our prediction for Monday night’s National Championship game.

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National Championship Game Preview: Purdue vs. UConn

Time: 9:20 PM EST
Channel: TBS
Odds: UConn -6

There’s a temptation here to keep this simple, and I’m going to give in to it. You’ll hear a lot in the leadup to this game about how strong of a team Purdue is, and how the six-point spread is too large.

It’s not. If anything, it’s not enough. UConn is better at every spot in the court, and we’re through 11 straight NCAA Tournament games now of not seeing any single team keep the Huskies close. 

Purdue is good, but the Boilermakers are not that good. They would have lost to NC State if the Wolfpack had a better shooting day. NC State held them to their lowest output of the season on offense, and laid out a defensive blueprint that an even more talented UConn team will be able to follow. 

Zach Edey is excellent, and he’s heading toward his second straight National Player of the Year award. He deserves it, but he’s going to meet his match in Donovan Clingan on Monday night. Clingan will make his usually easy looks much tougher, and he’ll compete with him on the boards. 

There’s one team that has a big that can match up with Edey and limit his impact, and it’s the Huskies. 

Further, UConn is just so much better throughout the rest of the roster. Cousy Award winner Tristen Newton and Cam Spencer are going to expose the flaws in Purdue’s backcourt, and the Huskies even have the better glue/support players in Alex Karaban and Stephon Castle. 

Alabama with its pace and three-point barrage presented a quirk that could have given UConn trouble, but Purdue does not have a similar wrinkle to throw at the Huskies.

It’s true that these are the two best teams in the nation, but Connecticut is that much better. They’re similarly structured rosters, and Connecticut’s is a clear cut above one through five.

The Pick: UConn 84, Purdue 71

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