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What to expect from the 2023 NCAA Basketball Tournament Finals

The San Diego State Aztecs and the University of Connecticut Huskies are set to face off tonight at 6:20 p.m. in Houston, Texas. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

After weeks of shocking upsets and record-breaking games, two teams are left standing in this year’s March Madness Tournament. The San Diego State Aztecs (36-6, Mountain West 15-3) and the University of Connecticut Huskies (30-8, Big East 13-7) are set to face off tonight at 6:20 p.m. Monday, April 3 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.

San Diego State’s road to the championship game has been straightforward. Leading up to the tournament, the Aztecs dominated the Mountain West Conference after losing only three games. The team’s only three losses came from the Boise State Broncos, Nevada Wolf Pack and New Mexico Lobos. The Aztecs ended up winning the Mountain West Championship locking in the team’s bid for the NCAA March Madness Tournament. During the tournament, San Diego State defeated the Creighton Bluejays, Alabama Crimson Tide, Furman Paladins and the College of Charleston Cougars before defeating Conference USA underdog Florida Atlantic in the Final Four.

The Aztecs’ win over the Florida Atlantic Owls was dramatic to say the least. The Owls were in control for most of the game, finishing the first half 40-33. It would be San Diego State’s defense that would allow for the tournament’s first ever semifinal buzzer beater. Junior guard Lamont Butler would be the one to send the Owls back to Florida and keep the Aztecs in Texas.

University of Connecticut (UConn) faced a harder hill to the top of NCAA stardom. UConn finished fourth in the Big East standings forcing the Huskies to enter the tournament through an at-large bid. The Huskies did manage to win five straight to end the season before losing in the second round of the Big East Championship Tournament to the Big East Champions Marquette Golden Eagles. UConn defeated the Miami Hurricanes, Gonzaga Bulldogs, Arkansas Razorbacks, Saint Mary’s Gaels and Iona Gaels.

In the game against Miami, sophomore guard Jordan Hawkins came back from illness to drop 13 points for the Huskies. UConn outscored the Hurricanes 37-24 in the first half of the game putting the game at arm’s length for Miami. The Hurricanes would go on to lose the semifinals match 72-59 despite tying UConn 35-35 in the second half. This would be the Huskies fifth closest tournament win over the course of five games.

This year’s March Madness did not see a No. 1 seed in the Final Four. San Diego State was No. 5 in the Southern Bracket whereas UConn was No. 4 in the Western Bracket.

Prior to Mondays matchup, the Huskies are favored to defeat the Aztecs. ESPN Analytics, who focuses on using data analysis and advanced statistics to provide insights and analysis on sports events and trends, suggests that the Huskies have a 74.3 percent chance of reigning on top of the collegiate basketball world.

If the Huskies were to win, it would be the program’s fifth NCAA Championship. San Diego State has not won a National Championship in the program’s 102-year history and a win would be sure to bring excitement to southern California.

The Finals of the NCAA March Madness Tournament will be shown on CBS and streamed on March Madness Live.

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela Armendariz is the sports editor and may be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram

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About the Contributor
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Contributor/Writer
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is a contributor for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with minors in political science and Chicano studies. Emmanuel served as sports editor at The Prospector and as a writer with Minero Magazine. Now, Emmanuel is interning at El Paso Matters and is a contributor at The Prospector.
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What to expect from the 2023 NCAA Basketball Tournament Finals