2024 NCAA championship game predictions: UConn vs. Purdue expert picks, odds, March Madness bracket

Written by on April 9, 2024

After many twists and turns, we have finally arrived at the crowning moment of the 2024 NCAA Tournament on Mondat at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.. The 68-team bracket initially introduced on Selection Sunday has nearly played out. Two teams still stand entering Monday’s national championship. It’ll be No. 1 seed UConn, looking to become the first team since Florida (2006-07) to win back-to-back national titles, against No. 1 seed Purdue, which is seeking to become the first program to lose to a No. 16 seed in one NCAA Tournament only to turnaround and win a championship the next year (Virginia, 2019).

UConn has been on an absolute tear through the NCAA Tournament over the last two postseasons, winning 11 straight such games in dominant fashion. It has not won a game by fewer than 14 points since March 15, giving it an opportunity to put itself among the all-time great teams if it wins Monday in similar fashion. Purdue has largely run through this tournament as well with double-digit victories in all but one game; that was still a 72-66 win over No. 2 seed Tennessee.

The Huskies are 5-0 all-time in championship game appearances, while the Boilermakers (0-1) are playing in the game for just the second time, previously falling short in 1969. UConn enters as the betting favorite to win the title Monday and keep its incredible run in tact. However, Purdue has plenty of mettle, and it could certainly cover the spread even if it ends up falling short of winning.

The CBS Sports staff has made its picks for the game below both straight up and against the spread. Unlike last year, when UConn beating San Diego State was a unanimous prediction, opinions this year are varied.

Be sure to stick with CBS Sports throughout the final day of the NCAA Tournament for full March Madness coverage as the Final Four wraps up and we crown a national champion.

Odds via SportsLine consensus | All times Eastern

2024 Final Four predictions, picks

(1) UConn vs. (1) Purdue

Monday, 9:20 p.m. | TBS, March Madness Live

Gary Parrish: UConn is more efficient offensively than Purdue, more efficient defensively than Purdue, equipped with more future NBA players than Purdue and bigger and more athletic on the perimeter than Purdue. Yes, I have a full understanding of why Dan Hurley’s Huskies are the favorites in Monday’s title game of the 2024 NCAA Tournament. That acknowledged, Purdue is still a No. 1 seed with a two-time National Player of the Year in Zach Edey — plus an outright Big Ten champ that’s 34-4 and ranked second at EvanMiya.com. So, sure, UConn has won 11 straight NCAA Tournament games by double-digits — and 12 might just be on the way. But 6.5 points seems a little high to me because I’m expecting Purdue to keep it close and possibly win outright. Pick: Purdue +6.5

Matt Norlander: The Huskies are one game away from being considered one of the greatest teams with one of the most impressive runs in college basketball over the past 50 years. I’m siding with that. I’m riding with the team that has refused to find a close game in the past 11 NCAA Tournament matchups that it’s been presented. On Saturday, its starters all scored 12+ points, the first time that had happened in a national semifinal since Duke in 1994. UConn keeps producing stats and putting on performances that reinforce just how absurdly abnormal all of this is. Zach Edey needs to get close to 30 points and 15+ rebounds, and that alone will not get it done. The line wasn’t as high as it should have been. On Monday, for the 12th time in a row, UConn will win a tournament game by double digits (but Purdue will get it closer than the other 11). Pick: UConn -6.5 (Huskies 80, Boilermakers 70)

Kyle Boone: UConn has covered the spread in six straight games and in 14 of its last 16 — all as favorites — but 6.5 points is a lot to lay against a Purdue team that has the best player in the sport and is playing its best basketball of the season at this moment. So, while the trends suggest the Huskies will roll as they’ve done the last month-plus, I’m taking the 6.5 with Purdue. This is closer to a toss-up than people may think, and the Boilermakers are equipped to give the Huskies their biggest fight of the postseason. Pick: Purdue +6.5

David Cobb: Purdue has the best player in this matchup: Edey. UConn has the best team. Tristen Newton, Alex Karaban and Donovan Clingan each played key roles in last year’s national title game for the Huskies and have increased their productivity this season. With perimeter weapons Cam Spencer and Stephon Castle added to the fold, UConn’s starting lineup is packed full of guys who would be the best players on many teams in college basketball. They all average double figures, and the Huskies barely miss a beat when they dip into their bench. The number of ways in which UConn can beat you is virtually limitless. Defensively, the Huskies are uniquely equipped to defend the 7-foot-4 Edey because they counter with Clingan, who is 7-foot-2. This program has been viciously dominant over the past two seasons, and that dominance will continue as UConn wins another title. Pick: UConn -6.5

Chip Patterson: While the conversation will focus around Edey and Clingan, the first meeting of 7-footers in a title game since Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon in 1984, this game will ultimately be decided by the perimeter players — and that’s where the Huskies have a noticeable edge. If we were to draft all the players in this title game, Edey would probably be the first pick, but the next five players taken would be Huskies. The performance of players like Stephon Castle, Cam Spencer and Alex Karaban in the national semifinals only drove home how well-rounded and complete this UConn team is, and no matter how you want to play or what kind of challenge you want to present for the Huskies, they always have an answer. I’m expecting a competitive game, but one where the Huskies pull away late to cover. Pick: UConn -6.5

Jerry Palm: This is the game college basketball deserves. The two best teams all season long, one the reigning champ, the other looking for its first title. Purdue has been on a mission to erase the stain of the 2023 NCAA Tournament. That has been particularly true of national player of the year Edey, who has upped his game another level in this tournament. Braden Smith was way off against NC State, which did a good job of muddying the game.  That is unlikely to happen again. The Boilermakers will have to play near their best to beat the champs. I expect the game to go down to the wire either way and Purdue covers. Pick: Purdue +6.5

Parrish Norlander Palm Boone Cobb Patterson

Spread

PUR +6.5

UCONN -6.5

PUR +6.5

PUR +6.5

UCONN -6.5

UCONN -6.5

Straight up

PUR

UCONN

PUR

UCONN

UCONN

UCONN

The post 2024 NCAA championship game predictions: UConn vs. Purdue expert picks, odds, March Madness bracket first appeared on CBS Sports.


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