Villanova UConn CBB

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College Basketball



This was supposed to be an important non-Conference road Game for Villanova to give it some help with its resume. However, that’s no longer the case with Connecticut’s continued struggles under Kevin Ollie. The Huskies have put together some wins, but just got gashed by Memphis, which could be a sign to come for this Game.

UConn is at home (playing in Hartford, about 30 minutes from campus) and has maybe one or two ways to win this Game as a large underdog. ‘Nova already has a 20-point win at Temple and 18-point win at DePaul so it’s not like it can’t win big away from home. UConn has been unreliable both home and away and playing at the XL Center, where they don’t have a major advantage, isn’t a huge deal.

The biggest thing for the Huskies is that they have to hit shots. Otherwise, they simply won’t Scoreenough to keep up on the scoreboard. The Huskies rank as one of the worst offensive teams in the country with an effective field goal percentage hovering around 46 and that showed in scoring 49 points at Memphis. Villanova has been susceptible at times on the defensive end this season and that could leave some open shots for UConn. That said, the Huskies only have three guys scoring more than 6.6 points per Game between Jalen Adams, Terry LArrier and Christian Vital. It’s a guard-heavy offense based around two guys that don’t make more than 32 percent of their threes and LArrier, who averages less than five rebounds even as one of the team’s taller players at 6-foot-8.

The problems are evident for the Huskies and while defense might be their strong suit, trying to stop Villanova will be its hardest task yet, even with previous matchups against Michigan State and Arizona. Villanova is humming in Big East play and look headed for yet another regular-season title. While its defense has been inconsistent at times, the offense has rarely been stopped. Simply put, not many teams can stop this all-around juggernaut.

Guards Jalen Brunson and Phil Booth can both get to the hoop whenever they want. Donte DiVencenzo is a knockdown shooter and one of five guys on the team that shoots it better than 41 percent from deep. Mikal Bridges, formerly a lock-down defender, has turned into a legitimate offensive threat that averages 17.5 points per Game. Throw in freshman Omari Spellman, who gives the Wildcats size and power down low and this is a complete team. Even if no one on Villanova is hitting shots, Spellman has the ability to dominate this Game against inferior post players like Josh Carlton and Mamadou Diarra.

There is a chance to cover this Game for the Huskies only because they’ve played somewhat better basketball in the past couple weeks (not including the Memphis loss). Still, beating East Carolina by five points at home doesn’t exactly mean you’re playing better. The Wildcats present a completely different matchup for UConn and are a nightmare for a team that’s usually known for length on the defensive end. Even with its length, the Huskies start three guys that come in at 6-foot-2 or less, which is another problem, especially when Mikal Bridges moves to the three.

Unless UConn catches fire from deep or plays it best defensive Game of the season, this one could get ugly. Villanova has the tools to Scoreon a defensive-first team and if its defense shows up, the Huskies could be in for an ugly home Game.

Our Pick – Villanova -16

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