Purdue vs UConn Props and Best Bets for the National Championship Game: Edey Does It

A pair of No. 1 seeds square off tonight in the National Championship Game. Zach Edey is once again at the heart of the action as a featured attraction in our favorite UConn vs. Purdue props.

Apr 8, 2024 • 17:36 ET • 4 min read
Zach Edey of the Purdue Boilermakers in NCAA College Basketball action.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

A dichotomy has emerged in the betting on tonight's Men's National Championship Game. As bettors ready for the clash of the big men when the Purdue Boilermakers face the UConn Huskies, the money is piling up on the Under, driving the total down to 145.5 after opening at 148.5.

But many of those same bettors are picking up March Madness props on Overs. The Top 5 most-bet player props, in terms of ticket count, were all on Overs at BetMGM on the first night that lines were open.

There is a logical fallacy in that combination. If the Under is the appropriate play, then some player prop Unders should also be leaned into. That will be the case in two of our three March Madness picks as we dig into props and Purdue vs. UConn picks and predictions for the final game of the college basketball season this evening.

Purdue vs UConn National Championship game props

Read full analysis of each pick.

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Purdue vs UConn best bets

Prop bet #1: Loyer goes lower

UConn’s defense cannot be praised enough. Focus on the season since the Huskies got romped on the road at Creighton on Feb. 20, and their defense has been the No. 2 in adjusted efficiency, per Bart Torvik. While Houston’s and Iowa State’s defenses received much of the applause this season, UConn’s fits right with them.

Its best quality may be how it limits opposing 3-point attempts. On the season, opponents took 33.4% of their field goals from behind the arc, No. 50 in the country. For context, the national average was 37.3%.

That rate was not embellished in the non-conference slate. Big East foes took just 33.9% of their shots from deep against UConn. And even those looks were bad, with conference opponents hitting 39.2% of their 3-point attempts and the season rate sitting at 29.3% against the Huskies.

No one in Purdue’s offense is more reliant on threes than sophomore guard Fletcher Loyer, who attempted 141 threes this season and 157 two-pointers, hitting his long-range shots at a higher percentage (44.7% compared to 40.1%).

UConn’s scouting report knows to stick to Loyer outside the arc and release him inside it. Since the start of the Big Ten Tournament, Loyer has gone 11-for-21 from deep in seven games, hitting just one 3-pointer in four of them. He is not actively looking for his shot, and the Huskies will take it away even further.

The only reason not to also doubt Loyer’s points total in March Madness props is that he has been getting to the free-throw line in spurts, not taking any in three of the last seven games but averaging 4.5 in the other four, going 17 of 18 in the stretch.

Fletcher Loyer prop: Under 1.5 made threes (-125 at DraftKings)

Prop bet #2: The Big Edey

As UConn shuts down the Boilermakers from deep, Purdue will need to repeatedly post up Zach Edey. For all the criticism levied against him by NBA draftniks, the 7-foot-4 Edey’s post game is solid, which sets a high baseline for his points total.

But it is not the reason to bet on Edey’s ceiling in the March Madness odds.

In Big East play, the Huskies fouled at the 10th-highest rate in the conference, more often than one would expect given their dominance. That may not be a mistake in the title game.

UConn plays about a seven-man rotation with two more seeing enough minutes to provide breathers. That includes 7-foot-2 Donovan Clingan, 6-foot-8 Alex Karaban, and 6-foot-10 Samson Johnson. Huskies head coach Dan Hurley may advise those big men to foul Edey plenty rather than give up clean post moves.

Edey shoots 62.5% from 2-point range and 71.1% from the line. In raw numbers, that is an expected value of 1.25 points on his 2-point field-goal attempts and 1.42 on his trips to the charity stripe, but as soon as removing shots from further than six feet, the former value will surpass the latter.

UConn may see fit to send Edey to the free-throw line. So be it. That will boost his points total, especially as Purdue struggles to find looks from deep.

Zach Edey prop: Over 24.5 points (+107 at BetRivers)

Prop bet #3: Newton loses opportunities at the line

Meanwhile, Purdue does not commit fouls. The Boilermakers fouled at the fourth-lowest rate in the country this season, in part because Edey is prudent in his use of his height. It goes beyond the two-time Player of the Year, though. Of Purdue’s four leaders in minutes played, none commit more than 2.6 fouls per 40 minutes.

The Boilermakers’ three leading guards — Braden Smith, Lance Jones, and the aforementioned Loyer — are some of the best in the country at not committing fouls. Those three, along with Edey at the rim, will be the primary defenders of UConn floor general Tristen Newton.

Newton relies on free throws, is one of the best in the country at getting to the line, and then hits 80.2% of those chances. Those moments will simply not be available against Purdue.

Furthermore, Newton is the Huskies’ best creator, ranking in the Top 50 in the country in assist rate. The downside of not fouling Newton will be he has more time to move the ball to a different UConn scorer.

Tristen Newton prop: Under 14.5 points (+115 at BetRivers)

Not intended for use in MA.
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