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How San Diego State and UConn booked their spots in the national championship game


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HOUSTON — We now have our finalists for the 2023 nationwide championship recreation. San Diego State and UConn will play for a nationwide title.

After a shocking set of 64 video games within the males’s 2023 NCAA match, absolutely issues would settle down and the nationwide semifinal would go precisely as anticipated, proper?

The Aztecs would inflict their will with their extremely regarded protection. The huge venue and Remaining 4 pleasure would possibly make each groups miss photographs, however none actually occurred. The surprises stored coming, all the best way right down to the ultimate second towards the Florida Atlantic Owls, defeating them 71-70.

UConn, in the meantime, acted like issues have been enterprise as normal, main wire-to-wire for a 13-point win over Miami.

As we prepared for Monday’s matchup between the Aztecs and the Huskies, ESPN’s workforce of Myron Medcalf, Jeff Borzello, John Gasaway and Joe Lunardi talk about all the important thing factors from Saturday’s contests at NRG Stadium in Houston.

How UConn beat Miami



UConn heart Adama Sanogo hits a pair of 3-pointers early

Adama Sanogo is left alone for a pair of 3-pointers and he drains each of them.

What was key in UConn/Miami’s win?

In Houston’s Candy 16 loss to Miami, Kelvin Sampson mentioned Norchad Omier was an even bigger problem for his workforce than any 7-footer they’d confronted all season. Miami’s capability to play its versatile lineup and problem larger groups is the results of Omier’s presence. However Adama Sanogo and Donovan Clingan helped restrict his affect. I believe that mattered most. Omier lastly met a few gamers who may deal with him within the paint. Omier missed 5 of his first eight photographs and performed with eight fouls for the many of the second half. With 3:57 to play within the second half, UConn had a 44% offensive rebounding fee. These second-chance alternatives have been partially connected to Omier not having the ability to act because the bodily presence he has been for Miami all yr. UConn capitalized off these alternatives with 16 second-chance factors that contributed to the 14-point lead it held within the closing 3:35 of the matchup. — Medcalf

What stunned you most about this recreation?

Many issues that might go unsuitable for UConn did go unsuitable. Jordan Hawkins was underneath the climate and Andre Jackson Jr. picked up two fouls within the opening minutes. None of that made any distinction towards a Miami workforce that had simply hung 51 factors in 20 minutes on Texas, the next seed than the Huskies. Dan Hurley’s workforce was resilient, Sanogo is enjoying one of the best basketball of his already very illustrious profession and Donovan Clingan continues to crush the spirit of opponents who suppose they’re catching a break as a result of Sanogo’s on the bench. The ultimate consequence was what we’re used to seeing from UConn on this bracket, however the best way the Huskies acquired it carried out was shocking — and really spectacular. — Gasaway

Who was your most excellent participant of this recreation?

UConn acquired huge contributions throughout the board, however none higher than Sanogo’s. From the sudden three-pointers to the well timed blocks to the chic driving layup from the wing, the Huskies’ massive man displayed a versatility that has him midway to a Remaining 4 most excellent participant award. All informed, his double-double (21 factors, 10 rebounds, 9-for-11 from the ground) was a stat line Miami merely couldn’t match. Throw in 4 factors and a half-dozen extra rebounds from Clingan, and UConn’s edge within the center was a demise blow to the Hurricanes. — Lunardi

What would be the legacy of Miami?

Miami’s legacy won’t be the identical for everybody. Some will see the Hurricanes as a workforce that was fueled by the title, picture and likeness (NIL) offers connected to Nijel Pack, who transferred from Kansas State, and different Miami gamers. However that is unfair. First, the NIL contributions are all authorized. And this Miami workforce has been elite all yr. These Hurricanes shared the ACC crown with Virginia. They usually entered Saturday’s recreation with a 13-2 file of their final 15 video games. The Canes characterize what’s potential in school basketball. Final yr, they have been within the Elite Eight and this yr, they have been a Remaining 4 workforce. If something, their run — and this whole Remaining 4 — means that the standard powers is likely to be dropping their grip on the game due to the rising parity. However Miami needs to be remembered as a superb workforce that made historical past with the primary Remaining 4 run at school historical past. — Medcalf

How San Diego State beat Florida Atlantic

What was the important thing to San Diego State profitable this recreation?

Down the stretch, San Diego State was in a position to get again to what labored within the first 4 video games of the NCAA match (and all season, actually). It had solely three offensive rebounds within the first half, however grabbed 9 within the second half — together with six in a 59-second stretch towards the tip. After having some success going at Nathan Mensah and SDSU’s inside gamers within the first half, FAU began struggling to complete on the rim. The Owls completed simply 5-for-14 on layups. And the Aztecs’ protection got here again to life as an entire. They’ve been a dominant defensive unit this season, however FAU had its method within the first half, scoring 40 factors within the first 20 minutes. However the Owls made simply eight photographs after halftime, together with simply two within the closing 7:40. San Diego State’s switchability at each spot on the ground started to trigger points for FAU, after giving the Owls an excessive amount of house early. — Borzello

What stunned you most about this recreation?

Every little thing, actually all the things, stunned me from begin to end. FAU acted prefer it had been right here earlier than proper from the opening tip. After the primary 40 minutes of the Remaining 4, Alijah Martin is your most excellent participant (thus far): 26 factors with 19 coming within the second half. And even that wasn’t sufficient on an evening when San Diego State started attacking the offensive glass after halftime. (Talking of surprises, the Aztecs acquired lots of these second possibilities off of their very own missed free throws.) Matt Bradley began quick and completed with 21 factors, simply sufficient to place Lamont Butler in place for his iconic game-winner. Sure, Lamont Butler. Only one extra shock in a 2023 bracket full of them. — Gasaway

The place does this semifinal rank amongst semifinals for you?

Recreation however, this was an necessary nationwide semifinal for the game. That each groups performed at a excessive stage reinforces the notion of non-power conferences belonging at this stage. Throw in a legendary end and we’ll keep in mind each FAU and San Diego State for an extended, very long time. The primary true buzzer-beater of an important match couldn’t have been extra dramatic. — Lunardi

What’s subsequent for Florida Atlantic?

FAU is not going wherever. Offered no gamers enter the portal or make ill-advised NBA draft choices, Dusty Might ought to carry again all however one participant from this yr’s workforce. Michael Forrest is the lone senior on the roster, with all 5 starters nonetheless having eligibility. Might has already made it clear he isn’t going wherever, agreeing to a long-term extension that was introduced earlier within the week. If he can retain Johnell Davis, Martin, Vladislav Goldin, Nick Boyd and Bryan Greenlee — plus a couple of key bench gamers — FAU will as soon as once more be a top-25 workforce. Thirty-five wins and a second straight Remaining 4 look will take some doing, however the Owls can have the continuity and expertise to make one other run. — Borzello

Pete Thamel: Butler’s buzzer-beater sends San Diego State to closing

Myron Medcalf: FAU gamers ‘not dwelling’ on defeat in Remaining 4

Nationwide championship line

Opened at Caesars Sportsbook

No. 4 UConn -7, vs No. 5 San Diego State

Over/underneath: 131

MoneyLine: UConn -320, SDST +250

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