March Madness Final Four Best Bets

Last Updated: Mar 31, 2023

The 2023 Final Four, which goes down Saturday, epitomizes the Year of the Underdog.

Three of the four remaining schools in this installment of the NCAA Tournament are national-semifinal newcomers.

UConn is the one clear favorite, despite the fact it was the No. 4 seed in the West Region. Florida Atlantic (No. 9), San Diego State (No. 5), and Miami (No. 5) will join the Huskies, making arguably the most unlikely collection of clubs in Final Four history.

The tournament will also make its annual move from an arena to a football stadium, with this year’s Final Four taking place in Houston’s NRG Stadium. With all that in mind, let’s look at the best bets for the Final Four.

Pat Pickens’ March Madness Betting Record: 29-23 (+11.3 units)

March Madness Final Four Best Bets

Check our experts’ top picks for both games:

There’s guaranteed to be a first-time, national-championship participant for the second time in the last four tournaments. Although there’s a 75-percent chance of a first-time champion for the second time in three years, UConn, who has won four previous national titles, is the clear-cut favorite.

Before reading about Pat’s CBB Final Four Best Bets, track our top March Madness odds for every game:

But this is the tournament of upsets, so tread lightly if you’re considering a Huskies futures bet. As always, is a great reference while you assess March Madness odds.

San Diego State vs Florida Atlantic: Under 131.5 Total Points (-110) • DraftKings Sportsbook

WAGER: 2 Units

The Final Four is a completely unique experience for 18-to-22-year-old college basketball players. SDSU and FAU, who will kick off Saturday’s doubleheader, are bound to feel plenty of excitement and angst playing on that stage.

The atmosphere of 70,000-plus fans watching cannot be duplicated, especially for two teams who are used to playing in front of a fraction of that at home. Depth perception comes into play when shooting, as do nerves when the entire sports world is watching.

San Diego State is an elite defensive team and has showcased that in the tournament, allowing just 57.25 points per game in this year’s tourney. FAU, meanwhile, won their Sweet 16 matchup against an exceptional defensive team in Tennessee, and they did so despite scoring just 62 points.

I keep betting, wrongly, against the Owls, so I won’t do it again in this space.

Given the emotional roller-coaster, the Aztecs defense, and the Owls’ ability to play that style as well — two of FAU’s wins had 131 points or fewer — the Under is the CBB pick of the day.

Read more NCAA Tournament Final Four betting tips:

Miami +5.5 (-110) vs UConn • DraftKings Sportsbook

Wager: 1 Unit

Where I’ve been wrong about FAU, I’ve been spot-on about Miami. The Hurricanes persevered as an underdog in three of their four tournament games, including their come-from-behind win over Texas in the Elite 8 on Sunday.

The Huskies have run roughshod over their four opponents, mainly because of their exceptional defense that’s allowed 59.25 points per game and held Gonzaga’s No. 1 scoring offense to just 54 points in the Elite 8. But they’re going to get tested at some point, and it will probably be against the Hurricanes on Saturday.

The Hurricanes are battle-tested out of the down-but-formidable ACC, have the conference’s Player of the Year Isaiah Wong, and are a top-25 offensive team. Plus, they have a big, 6-foot-7, 230-pound Norchad Omier, who averaged a double-double per game and can defend UConn’s All-Big East performer Adama Sanogo.

UConn’s program may have the most pedigree, and it has clearly displayed the most talent of any remaining team. So, it’s easy to forget none of its players have suited up for a Final Four game, and Dan Hurley will be coaching in his first national semifinal as well.

There’s a chance the Hurricanes deliver the first punch and set the Huskies on their heels, leaving me to wonder how they’d deal with adversity for the first time in weeks. UConn hasn’t won a game by fewer than seven points since Feb. 4 and is 0-2 in one-possession games since.

Can the Hurricanes win? Yes. Can they stay within six points? Certainly. That’s why I’m taking Miami to do so as a top option for the national semis.


Pat Pickens

Pat Pickens is a seasoned sportswriter who has covered pro sports since 2013 for various websites, including The New York Times,, Bleacher Report,, USA Today, the Associated Press and many others. His debut book, titled "The Whalers" about the history of the NHL's Hartford Whalers, was released in October 2021.

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