The last four best bets: tips against the spread and how to watch

San Diego state guard Matt Bradley runs to a practice in Houston on Thursday before the Aztecs face Florida Atlantic in the Final Four on Saturday. (David J. Philip / Associated Press)

Saturday’s Final Four games aren’t what we expected, but that doesn’t change the size of the competitions or the options available to bettors.

Here’s a breakdown of the NCAA Tournament Semifinals betting (50-39 tournament record vs. the spread):

No. 9 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 5 San Diego State (-2, 131.5)

If: 3:09 p.m. PDT

How to see: CBS;; Outstanding+

Gregory Peterson: San Diego State has been the more efficient defense this season, ranking 14th in the country in points allowed per ball possession, but Florida Atlantic has a better balance. The Owls rank 15th in points scored per ball possession and 20th in points allowed per ball possession, while ranking 10th in away rebound rate.

Although San Diego State is the state’s best three-point defense in away games (opponents shoot 27.3% from three-point range), their defense should see a step backwards as the Aztecs have allowed opponents only five of 44 to go three-point range in the last two rounds of the NCAA tournament.

The Owls are 13th in opposing three-point shooting away, which will bar a San Diego State offense that ranks 275th in the country in two-point shooting percentage in games played away.

๐Ÿ€ Choice: Florida Atlantic ML +110

Zachary Cohen: San Diego State has kept all four NCAA tournament opponents under 65 points, two of which are Alabama and Creighton.

The Crimson Tide and the Bluejays have firepower scattered throughout their lineup, and they still haven’t been able to find a way to beat this Aztec defense. And while Florida Atlantic definitely has some talent, the Owls don’t have any high majors. Of course, that doesn’t seem so important at the moment, especially since FAU has already made an impressive run. But that’s important this late in the tournament.

The Owls have no one to rely on to score late in the shot clock and it’s unclear how they would score when this is close late in the game. Just moving the ball and shooting threes isn’t going to work against San Diego State.

The Aztecs are 12-0 ATS when they face teams that are making 8.0 or more threes per game (after 15+ games) this season. San Diego State has beaten these teams by an average of 9.9 points per game.

๐Ÿ€ Selection: State of San Diego -2

#5 Miami vs. #4 Connecticut (-5.5, 149.5)

If: 5:49 p.m. PDT

How to see: CBS;; Outstanding+

Zachary Cohen: Miami is one of the most impressive offensive teams in the nation, as the Hurricanes rank fifth in college basketball on KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric.

However, UConn is ranked 11th in the nation in terms of adjusted defensive efficiency, and the Huskies happen to be 16-6 ATS when facing teams shooting at least 45% from the ground this season.

UConn won those games with an average of 10.8 PPG, so Dan Hurley’s team didn’t have much trouble beating opponents who could score the basketball. The Huskies are also 18-9 ATS when facing teams with winning records this year, and they’ve beaten those opponents by an average of 10.1 PPG.

This UConn team is just structured differently than many other programs, with Adama Sanogo, a grown male of color. The Hurricanes have no one like him, and his physicality should be an issue for Miami โ€” even Norchad Omier.

The same goes for the length the huskies are during their rotation. UConn doesn’t play with many undersized players, which should help the team come out and deny every shot from Isaiah Wong, Nijel Pack and Jordan Miller.

This also seems to be a game Jordan Hawkins should thrive in. The Hurricanes aren’t defending the perimeter at all, so Hawkins will get some good looks from deep. Don’t be surprised if he goes for at least 20 points and hits some threes.

๐Ÿ€ Tip: Connecticut -5.5

Adam Burke: I’m naturally skeptical about expecting a lot of points in a game played in a football stadium. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I like the state of San Diego. However, this game between Miami and UConn is very different and I think we should get a back and forth high score thriller.

UConn’s best attribute throughout the tournament was its size. The Huskies don’t have a traditional point guard, but virtually everyone who plays important minutes is 6ft 5 or taller and contributes on both ends of the floor. I’m not sure size will matter as much against Miami’s fast guards as it does against teams like Gonzaga and Arkansas. Of course, the Razorbacks missed some decent looks and were 15 of 47 from two-point range in that game, so they could have at least kept their share of the scoring bargain.

Miami should be able to get some dribbling penetration here and Jim Larraรฑaga is aware that he should try to play in the switching game and pick up the pace as much as possible. In this tournament, Miami has scored at least 1,219 points per possession against Indiana, Houston and Texas, all of which are considered good defensive teams. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Hurricanes could get to UConn for a point per possession for speed.

I wouldn’t be shocked if UConn’s offensive barrage continues either. Miami is 243rd in 2P% defense and 132nd in 3P% defense. This is a team to absolutely score, and UConn has been extremely efficient on offense since mid-January, including four games with at least 1,117 PPP in the NCAA tournament.

The Huskies should get plenty of offensive rebounds in this game to increase their chances of scoring. I think Miami will get open looks because they share the ball and their speed on rebounds. The Hurricanes are also not as three-satisfied as some teams, with a three-pointer average of 34.3%. They’re able to get higher looks percentages, much like they did against Texas in a game where they only had eight three-point attempts.

๐Ÿ€ Selection: Over 149

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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