Not that anyone cares, but I did OK at picking the winners in the semifinal round of the Final Four. I had San Diego State winning straight-up by a point over Florida Atlantic, and that was close enough; the Aztecs won by two. I chose UConn straight-up to beat Miami by nine, and the final margin was the Huskies by 13.

Which brings us to Monday night’s NCAA Championship match pitting UConn vs. San Diego State.

Here are the Ken Pom national rankings to give you an idea of what the teams bring to the competition:

UCONN: No. 1 overall, No. 3 in adjusted offensive efficiency, and No. 8 in adjusted defensive efficiency.

SAN DIEGO STATE: No. 14 overall, No. 68 in adjusted offensive efficiency and No. 3 in defensive efficiency.

THE LINE: It depends where you go shopping for point spreads. UConn was a 7.5-point favorite all weekend and into Monday but at last look the Huskies are listed as a 7-point fave.

ANALYSIS: Connecticut is 15-1 against the spread in non-conference games and 9-1 ATS in neutral-court contests. And the Huskies come in with 11 wins in their last 12 games. This run includes a 5-0 record in this NCAA tournament, and the Huskies have won the five games by an average of 18.8 points. UConn has been wicked-good on both ends of the hardwood during March Madness, making 49.5 percent of their shots and limiting opponents to just 34% shooting.

There’s one weakness to the UCONN offense: too many turnovers, but Miami failed to capitalize on that when the teams clashed in the semifinals. Otherwise, how do you stop this offense?

The Huskies are averaging 80 points per game during the tournament in all three live-ball areas: inside scoring, 3-point scoring, and points in transition. This is a bear of a team on the offensive boards, ranking No. 2 in the nation by grabbing an astonishing 39% of its missed shots to extend the possession to roll up second-chance points. That looms as a big advantage for the Huskies tonight. UConn has a fairly significant size advantage over SDSU, and the Aztecs face a desperate mission in trying to control UConn bigs Adam Sonogo, Donovan Clingan and Alex Karaban.

The UConn defense doesn’t receive enough credit; they’re 8th in the nation this season at limiting their opponents’ effective field goal percentage. And the size comes into play when opponents try to get to the rim; UConn has blocked a shot on 12.6% percent of the other side’s possessions. And the Huskies rank 15th nationally at defending threes, and a solid 44th nationally at defending two-point attempts.

San Diego State will be stubborn in this one. Already impressive at stopping opponents, the Aztecs have elevated their defense during the tournament, allowing a low 35% shooting. The Aztecs are poised, don’t get shaken when fallen behind, do a job of dictating style and pace of play. They just keep hanging in there, and their comeback from a 14-point second-half deficit to defeat Florida Atlantic on Saturday was the perfect example.

SDSU isn’t aesthetically appealing on offense, ranking 218th nationally in effective field goal percentage. The Aztecs just grind away, muck it up, and turn their defense loose to close the scoring gap. SDSU heads into the title game with consecutive one-point wins over Creighton and Florida Atlantic. Both were made possible by SDSU’s ferocity at defending the three-ball, ranking No. 3 nationally by holding foes to 28 percent shooting from deep.

That said, as much as we respect the SDSU defense, we watched the Huskies smother two excellent offenses – Gonzaga and Miami – and hold them to fewer than 60 points in their last two victories.

Translation: UConn’s defense is just as effective as San Diego’s State.

Here’s the simple, factual truth: UConn has a vastly superior offense, and the quality of their defense is at least close to what San Diego State brings to the last dance. The Aztecs will have to somehow negate the Huskies’ size, rebounding ability, transition offense, shot-blocking, and ability to score in every manner. That’s a lot to ask of an ordinary SDSU offense – and the SDSU defense for that matter.

To win San Diego State will have to force 20+ turnovers, have a totally unexpected Villanova-upsets-Georgetown shooting night, and hope that its sticky defense can  stall UConn into a substandard shooting percentage.

That would make for a fun game. But more likely we’ll see a UConn performance that will match 2000 Michigan State, 2001 Duke, 2009 North Carolina and 2018 Villanova: running away to win all six NCAA Tournament games by double digits.

PREDICTION: UConn wins by 11 and will celebrate the fifth national championship in program history … unless of course, the three clown-show officials that made fools of themselves in Sunday’s LSU-over-Iowa women’s national championship game appear with whistles in Houston to give SDSU a better shot at the upset.

Thanks for reading …


Bernie invites you to listen to his sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS-AM. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the show podcast at or the 590 app.

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Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.