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UConn vs. Purdue picks, odds, projections men's championship game

UConn faces Purdue in NCAA finals, featuring dominant big men. UConn favored to win. Balanced scoring gives Huskies edge.

College basketball's season culminates with the clash between the top two teams in the nation vying for the coveted national title. This year, the matchup between UConn and Purdue marks only the 10th time in NCAA Tournament history that two No. 1 seeds will face off in the finals. The defending champions, UConn, have been on a dominant two-year run, while Purdue is looking to ride the talents of reigning Player of the Year Zach Edey to their first championship. As they prepare to battle it out in Phoenix, UConn is currently favored to win by a slim margin.

Both UConn and Purdue have been the most efficient teams in the sport this season, boasting balanced and experienced lineups. Ranked No. 1 and No. 3 in offensive efficiency, respectively, these teams also possess top-12 defenses, making for an exciting matchup. However, all eyes will be on the clash of the titans in the interior, with Edey and UConn's Donovan Clingan, both towering forces capable of impacting every possession.

Edey has been unstoppable in tournament play, averaging an impressive 28 points and 15.4 rebounds per game on 65 percent shooting. On the other hand, Clingan may not be as dominant offensively, but his defensive prowess, ranking in the top 10 in block rate nationally, makes him a formidable opponent. UConn is counting on Clingan to slow down Edey with some help, a task that may see the sophomore logging more playing time than usual.

In terms of scoring balance, UConn has the edge with all five starters averaging double-figure scoring. Led by All-American Tristen Newton, the Huskies have a strong perimeter presence with players like Cam Spencer and Alex Karaban. Emerging freshman Stephon Castle has also been making waves in the tournament with a career-high 21 points in the semifinal win over Alabama.

For Purdue to secure the win, they will need consistent perimeter shooting and to limit turnovers. With the second-highest 3-point percentage in the country, the Boilermakers have the potential to make an impact from beyond the arc. However, they must improve on their turnovers, as seen in the semifinal win over NC State. Players like Lance Jones and Fletcher Loyer will need to step up to support Edey and offset any offensive struggles.

Using advanced statistical models and simulations, our "numbers guy," Austin Mock, predicts a final score of UConn 75.3, Purdue 68.8, with UConn coming out on top by 6.5 points. As the stage is set for an epic showdown between these two powerhouse teams, basketball fans everywhere are eagerly awaiting the outcome of this highly anticipated national title game.

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