UCONN vs. Arizona
Elite 8 Pointspread Pick
Betting Line: UCONN -2 o/u 145
UCONN proved early on this year that they could play with anyone by beating Kentucky and then a month later going on the road and knocking off Texas. In fact the Huskies started off the year 17-2 and looked to be among the best in the land. Then, the wheels fell off. They lost 7 of 11 from January 29th forward and didn’t even earn a bye in the first round of the Big East Tourney. Heading into the Big East Tournament, UCONN was faced with the possibility of heading to the NIT Tournament without a good showing.
The Huskies answered the bell by returning to mid season form. They rolled through the Big East Tourney, winning the title, and have now won 8 in a row and outside of Bucknell, there wasn’t a cupcake in the bunch.
Of course, any team that makes it this far has to be on some sort of a roll as well. Arizona has won 7 of 8 and lost just 7 times all year. They played Kansas close earlier in the year and had to get by Texas and then Duke to get to this Game. They didn’t just get by Duke though. They blew them off the cOurt with an impressive 16 point win, 93-77.
Over the course of a college basketball season, with so many Games each and every day, as a handicapper, you simply play all of the perceived edges you have, based on your handicapping, and hope to win more than you lose. However, when you’re just looking at one Game, of this magnitude, it’s a bit different. If there’s a handicapper out there that feels there is some sort of a major matchup edge here in this Game, I’d like to meet him or her. It’s a coin flip. The team that wins will be the team that makes their shots. The team that wins will be the team who’s star has a good Game. For UCONN, that’s Kemba Walker and for Arizona that would be Derrick Williams. Or, the team that wins will be the team that s able to shut down the others star.
There’s certainly no major edge either way here. Although, we felt Duke was the best team in the Nation. Beating Duke the way they did, hey, Arizona could easily win the whole thing this year.
But we’re going with UCONN here. The Big East has taken a beating in the press and the public in general. Specifically, it’s been said over and over that the Big East is overrated. To their credit, this was being said before the Tournament started. Early exits by all of the Big East contenders certainly made it look as though they were right on the money.
This writer/handicapper doesn’t agree. I don’t think you can compare the PAC 10 to the Big East in terms of the day to day, week to week grueling Schedule. There are no easy Games on the Big East Conference Schedule. It’s a physical brand of basketball that takes it’s toll on teams. Perhaps the Big East teams were too beat up at this point. Which, would favor Arizona here. Not that their Schedule was a cake walk, however, if you go Game by Game comparing these two teams, you’re going to find that UCONN played a Schedule a few points more difficult than Arizona.
When we take a look at the most recent results, we can adjust the numbers further. Arizona is playing right around their regular season rating while UCONN is playing several points above their regular season mark. Call it what you want, hot, on a roll, whatever, but we rate UCONN a couple of points better going in. Adjusting the numbers based on current form only increases that margin.
The current line is UCONN by 2, but you have to figure that will drop. This Game should be a pick em Game. Either way, we think the UCONN roll continues right into the final 4. With sanctions coming for this UCONN team, this may be Jim Calhoun’s last shot at the final 4. He won’t be coaching much longer and the odds will certainly be against him ever making it this far the remainder of his career. This run would cap a fantastic career for Calhoun.
Predicted SCore: UCONN 76 Arizona 71