National Championship Props: Clingan’s Defense Has Advantage in Clash of Titans

Donovan Clingan

Getty Donovan Clingan dunks emphatically during UConn's Final 4 win over Alabama.

The National Championship game features a clash between the best big men in college basketball: Zach Edey and Donovan Clingan. Our dfsPro model suggests that Clingan is in for a huge rebounding game, while Edey could struggle to eclipse his point total.

Can Edey prove our model wrong and dominate Clingan, the best interior defender in college basketball? Or will Clingan disrupt Edey offensively en route to a huge night and a second consecutive National Championship? Let’s dive into the analysis for my 2 favorite National Championship props below!

National Championship Props for April 8

Donovan Clingan Over 7.5 Rebounds (-120) – DraftKings

It could be a long time before we see a National Championship matchup between 2 big men like Edey and Clingan again. 

Clingan has recorded 7.4 rebounds per game this season, but that average has climbed to 9 in the Huskies’ 5 NCAA Tournament games. He would have hit the Over on this line in 4 of his 5 games so far! 

Even more impressive is that Clingan has averaged just 24 minutes per game during March Madness. For this matchup against Edey, who is in fantastic physical shape, Clingan will need to play more minutes to give the Huskies their best chance at knocking off the 2-time National Player of the Year. More minutes equals more rebounding opportunities.

Clingan will emphasize boxing Edey out and crashing the defensive glass to prevent Purdue from having second-chance scoring opportunities. Our AI-powered model has Clingan finishing with 9 rebounds in this matchup, 21.62% higher than his usual average.

Zach Edey Under 24.5 Points (-145) – DraftKings

Edey is facing off against the best interior defender in the nation in Clingan. In the Elite 8, Clingan held the Illinois Fighting Illini to 0-for-19 shooting from the field as the primary defender. That level of defensive dominance has not been seen in a long time at the collegiate level.

The Final Four matchup against 6-foot-11 unicorn Grant Nelson was a bit harder for Clingan due to Nelson’s ability to stretch the floor with his shooting and ball handling. However, Edey’s style of play will be a glove-like fit for Clingan defensively.

Our dfsPro model projects Edey to finish 23.1 points in this title game, which is 1.8 points below (-7.23%) his season average of 24.9. Clingan has the blueprint for slowing down Edey, courtesy of N.C. State’s Ben Middlebrooks, who forced Edey to commit 5 turnovers. He also held him to merely 20 points! 

If anyone can duplicate Middlebrooks’ effort and strategy and improve upon it, it is Clingan.

One Last Thought

The National Championship game features the 2 best teams in the nation, per KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin. Unfortunately for the Purdue Boilermakers, this is a matchup nightmare. 

The Huskies have held their 5 NCAA Tournament opponents to 34.7% shooting from the field and 28.2% from behind the arc.

Purdue is the second-best 3-point shooting team in the nation, but it relies too heavily on getting catch-and-shoot looks, courtesy of passes out of the post from Edey. Due to Clingan’s defensive dominance, the Huskies have the luxury of not having to dig into or double the post.

Expect offensive droughts from the Boilers and a slower-paced game overall, with the Huskies winning reasonably comfortably.

While this is the last college basketball game of the season, I will still be covering the NBA Playoffs and other sports, so continue to check in to see our dfsPro model’s daily projections!