UConn vs. San Diego State prediction: How to pick, bet Sweet 16 odds for 2024 March Madness game

In a rematch of the 2023 national championship, the top-seeded and defending-champion UConn Huskies take on the San Diego State Aztecs in the Sweet 16 on Thursday (7:39 p.m. ET, TBS, live streaming on Sling). 

All season long, UConn has looked like the best team in the nation. Dan Hurley’s squad has size, speed, shooting, defense, and depth, all things that come in handy during March Madness. Even when something goes wrong or seems a little off — case in point: 19 personal fouls in Round 1 vs. Stetson, or 19 missed three-pointers vs. Northwestern — the Huskies still cruise to big victories. 

As for San Diego State, Brian Dutcher has another feather in his cap already after a thrilling Cinderella ride to the title game last season. The Aztecs had an underwhelming season in the Mountain West — they finished 26-10 on the campaign and just 11-7 in conference play — but they outlasted UAB in the first round and destroyed Yale in the second round, so here we are again. 

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Who will win this title game rematch? Will San Diego State even be able to keep it close against a UConn squad that has so effortlessly dominated the NCAA over the past 14 months? Let’s get right to the betting odds, identify some key stats and trends, and make our picks against the spread and predictions for this epic Sweet 16 clash.

UConn vs. San Diego State State odds

Updated Sweet 16 odds have UConn as a 10.5-point favorite entering Thursday’s matchup, according to BetMGM

  • Odds: UConn (-10.5), O/U 135.5
  • Date: Thursday, March 28
  • Time: 7:39 p.m. ET
  • TV: TBS
  • Arena: TD Garden in Boston, MA (buy tickets)

UConn (33-3, 18-2 in Big East)

Sometimes we overrate superteams and conflate their success with hyperbolic praise. Other times, we don’t give dominant teams enough credit. The latter seems to be the case with UConn, which might be one of the best college basketball teams of all time. 

Do we take greatness for granted? Dan Hurley’s squad plays superb team basketball on both ends of the floor, with the fifth-best shooting efficiency in the nation and the eighth-best defensive field-goal percentage. The Huskies have the third-most assists, and they have allowed the third-fewest defensive rebounds. They rank sixth in blocks and top-30 in made threes.

It’s a cohesive unit and an extremely well-coached, well-oiled machine. That’s probably why UConn has gone 48-5 since Jan. 31, 2023. When one part of the Huskies offense isn’t working, they utilize a different strength. When they’re getting into foul trouble with one defensive scheme, they switch to another. When Tristen Newton, Cam Spencer, or Alex Karaban need to shoot more, they do. When 7-2 center Donovan Clingan needs to step up, he does.

Anyone who loves basketball should watch Connecticut play, because we’re witnessing history. This Huskies team doesn’t just deserve to be talked about more today — it deserves to be talked about for as long as the sport of basketball exists. 

Key players

Tristen Newton, G, Sr. (6-5, 200): 15.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 6.2 apg

Cam Spencer, G, Sr. (6-4, 205): 14.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.6 apg

Donovan Clingan, C, So. (7-2, 265): 12.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.4 bpg

San Diego State Aztecs (26-10, 11-7 in Mountain West)

The Aztecs enjoyed a glorious ride to the national championship last season, but the Huskies squashed their dreams like a Cinderella pumpkin as they took home the title with a 76-59 win. Now Brian Dutcher’s squad gets a chance for redemption, once again facing UConn as a five-seed and hoping its shooting, passing, and rebounding is better this time around. 

SDSU has plenty of talent. Senior forward Jaedon Ledee has an NBA-ready body (6-9, 240) and tremendous pure-scoring skills. Guard Lamont Butler is the executive playmaker, while Reese Dixon-Waters and Micah Parrish serve as complementary scorers. The long, lanky Jay Pal does a lot with a little, racking up boards and blocks in small portions of playing time. This is a top-30 scoring defense with moments of offensive brilliance.

However, the Aztecs’ size and offensive consistency are concerns. Who will defend Clingan?  Who crashes the boards? What happens if San Diego State struggles from three-point land? The Aztecs shot a paltry 31.8 percent from deep this season, making a hair over seven treys per game. They ranked 145th in scoring and often got into foul and turnover trouble against good teams. The Cinderella ride could be over at the hands of UConn for the second consecutive year. 

Key players

Jaedon Ledee, G, Sr. (6-9, 240): 21.5 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.2 spg

Reese Dixon-Waters, G, Jr. (6-5, 210): 9.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.2 apg

Micah Parrish, F, Sr. (6-6, 180): 9.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.9 apg

MORE: Buy tickets for the Final Four as low as $210!

UConn vs. San Diego State prediction

UConn only got better since last season — it’s 33-3 on the campaign — while San Diego State remains talented but took a step back from the 2023 title game. The Aztecs can’t possibly hang around with a Huskies team that has an abundance of size, a barrage of offense, a stifling team defense, and a collective Rodman-esque flair for rebounding.

Sorry to burst the bubbles of anyone hoping for the sleeper upset, but UConn ain’t losing anytime soon and it definitely ain’t losing in Boston an hour and a half away from Storrs. We also like the favorites up to -12 here, as the Huskies have covered eight of their past 10 spreads and they have covered a whopping seven straight spreads of -11 or more.

FINAL SCORE PREDICTION: UConn 80, San Diego State 65 — The Huskies win (-650 and cover the spread (-10.5), with the score going well OVER the total (135.5).

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