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Marquette vs. UCONN
Betting Line: UCONN -5.5
The first game of a Big East doubleheader on ESPN Thursday night has Marquette visiting Connecticut in a game that will generate quite a bit of interest with curious onlookers tuning in to see how #14 Huskies react to being slapped on the wrist by the NCAA for recruiting violations. It's actually a bit more than a slap on the wrist. Calhoun will be suspended for the first 3 games of next season, which is no big deal, but there are other penalties that will affect their recruiting efforts over the next couple of years.
Also of note for this game is that Calhoun will not be on the bench for this game. He will be attending a family funeral and will leave the team in the hands of assistant George Blaney. All things considered, not the best set up for UCONN in a game they really need to have.
Amazingly, at 20-6 on the year and having spent most of the year in the top 10, UCONN is just in the middle of the pack in the Big East conference at 8-6. Safe to say this game is a must win. The Big East has 8 teams ranked in the top 25 and all of the other 7 teams have more wins in conference play than UCONN. All but St Johns have more wins on the season.
After Marquette, UCONN has road games at Cincinnati and West Virginia before finishing up the regular season at home vs. Notre Dame. Hopefully UCONN fans aren't making any travel arrangements just yet because this team is far from guaranteed a spot in the Big Dance. There's still some work left to be done and a loss here at home to Marquette would be devastating.
UCONN is the better team here but Marquette is plenty capable of the upset. Marquette lost by only 5 at Duke earlier in the year. They also lost by just one at Louisville who had a much easier time with UCONN the other night, beating the Huskies by 12. Marquette also has a score to settle here as UCONN knocked them off in their own building 76-68 back in January. Throw in the possible distractions, and no Calhoun, and this game becomes very interesting.
The feeling here is that we will see a big effort from UCONN in this spot. This is a talented team that's 13-2 at home and there's quite a bit on the line here. We've been seeing some big games down the stretch from top teams in similar spots, indicating the cream rising to the top at crunch time. Our numbers have UCONN by 6. The line on this game is UCONN -5. which is a tad too high for us to get involved here, but we feel UCONN is the right side tonight. We'll call it an opinion only. Also note Marquette just 3-6 on the road this year.
Predicted Score - UCONN 77 Marquette 71
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