The 2023 NCAA Tournament is coming down to the wire, with only the best of the best remaining. The West No. 4 seed UConn Huskies are preparing to face the Midwest No. 5 Miami Hurricanes on Saturday, which means it is time for some UConn basketball bold predictions.
The Huskies are currently 29-8 in the season, with notable wins versus the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Marquette Golden Eagles in the regular season. UConn would then fall to Marquette in the Big East Tournament semifinals but would punch a ticket to the Big Dance.
In the NCAA Tournament, the Huskies have beaten Iona, No. 19 Saint Mary’s, and Arkansas. Most notably, they defeated the No. 9 Gonzaga Bulldogs 82-54 in the Elite Eight round.
On the other side of the matchup, the Hurricanes are 29-7. Throughout March Madness, Miami won against Drake, No. 21 Indiana, No. 2 Houston, and No. 5 Texas.
With so much at stake, this game has the chance of becoming an instant classic. Both teams are having surprising campaigns but only one can move forward.
With that being said, here are some bold predictions for the UConn Huskies as they play the Miami Hurricanes in the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four.
3. Huskies hold Jordan Miller to less than 50% on his field goals
If there is one player that UConn basketball should keep an eye on from Miami is Jordan Miller. The guard is a potential second-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft and is making some noise in the tournament.
Against the Longhorns in the Elite Eight, Miller finished with a game-high 27 points. Most notably, he did not miss a single shot in the game. He went 7-for-7 from the field and a perfect 13-for-13 from the free-throw line.
For the season, he is averaging 15.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists. He is shooting 54.9% from the field, 35.6% from beyond the arc and 77.9% from the charity stripe.
Since he is coming off a big performance versus Texas, UConn needs to contain as much as possible. His efficiency could be costly, so forcing bad shots or him to pass the ball could be a solution.
The bold prediction is that the Huskies will hold Miller’s shooting percentage to less than 50%, which is considerably worse than what he has been doing this season. If that happens, UConn will have a greater chance of winning on Saturday.
2. Jordan Hawkins scores a team-high 20+ points
One player from UConn basketball who could make a big difference in the Final Four is Jordan Hawkins. The guard is projected to be a first-round selection this year and could give the Hurricanes a hard time.
In 35 games this season, Hawkins is averaging 16.3 points, 3.8 boards, and 1.3 assists. He is shooting 40.7% from the field, 38.5% from the 3-point line, and 88.6% from the charity stripe. All those numbers are improvements from his freshman campaign.
The sophomore is having some ups and downs in March Madness. In the first round against Iona, he went 3-for-11 from the field, finishing with 13 points. Then, he was in foul trouble and was limited to just 19 minutes and 12 points against Saint Mary’s.
Hawkins then bounced back against Arkansas in the Sweet 16. He scored 24 points with three assists, three 3-pointers and a perfect 9-for-9 shooting from the free-throw line.
He followed that performance with 20 points and six 3-pointers against the Bulldogs in the Elite Eight.
With back-to-back solid games, the bold prediction is that Hawkins will score at least 20 points against Miami, which will likely be the best mark on the team. Should he be on a good day, the Huskies’ offense could have a good day as well.
1. Game is decided by less than 10 points
At the end of the day, both the Huskies and the Hurricanes are having strong campaigns in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Miami defeated three nationally-ranked teams while UConn basketball blew out Gonzaga in the previous round.
As for the players, both Miller and Hawkins are on hot streaks that could continue on Saturday. This could end up being a back-and-forth battle between them, which can make the game even more entertaining.
According to FanDuel, the Huskies are the favorites to win this contest. However, the spread is currently -5.5. Although this is lower than the spread from the other Final Four game between San Diego State and Florida Atlantic, it still shows that many believe it could be a close one.
Fans should expect that the UConn-Miami matchup will come down to the final possessions. It will depend on how the players can perform in clutch time and which team can avoid turnovers.
The bold prediction is that the game will even be decided by less than 10 points. If that is the case, this has the potential to be a dramatic game until the final whistle.
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