Very few teams encapsulate the craziness of this season more than the Connecticut Huskies. Getting off to a hot start and once sitting at second in AdjEM per Kenpom, the Huskies then went through a massive roller coaster once league play started. Even currently ranking sixth in AdjEM, UConn currently has a 9-7 Big East record with another tough matchup on deck. Providence has fared far better in league play, currently in second place of the conference. Can they get the big win on the road?
Providence Vs. UConn Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Under 144.5
Even with both units possessing extremely efficient offenses, I will side with the under as scoring success may not come so easily for both teams in this matchup. Especially from a schematic point, both emphasizing interior production to open up the rest of the offensive game flow. Both will look to find success down low with their big men, forcing each other’s defense to collapse and open up the perimeter for higher quality looks.
Especially on the Huskies end, with three of their starters shooting an astonishing 39% from the perimeter. Adama Sanogo plays a major role in the Huskies offensive success, averaging 16.9 points per game on 58.3% shooting from the field. He is one of the more lethal scoring threats in the nation, being able to both take you off the dribble or shoot in stride off a cut at the perimeter. His interior presence will be especially vital as he will command a brunt of the Friars defensive attention.
The issue for him, as well as being our personal gain, is that the Friars excel at limiting interior production. They rank well above average in Effective Field Goal Percentage Allowed, smothering looks at the rim. Not only are they forcing opposing units into low quality shots, but they are negating second chance points by being an efficient rebounding unit as well. That bodes well for our under as second chance scoring can be a killer towards our ticket.
What is a cause for concern is that the Friars allow three point looks at a high rate, potentially opening up the door for the Huskies to get hot and put up points in a hurry. Although the usage rate will be high, it doesn’t mean that the looks will be clean as the Friars make up for the gap by limiting the completion rate. The variance is still a cause for concern, hopefully fixing the situation by funneling the Huskies into the interior for their own defensive benefit.
Providence Vs. UConn Odds
Oddsmakers don’t think so as they opened the Friars as a +7.5 underdog. Bettors have yet to take a stand on either end of the number, keeping it firm from the open. This may come as a surprise to the casual bettor at first glance, looking at the glaring discrepancy of recent record success. Connecticut still ranks firmly above the Friars in AdjEM, as well as running as one of the unluckiest units to date. The Huskies are currently 323rd in Luck rating, getting the wrong end of a bad bounce late in games at a frequent rate.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a moderate pace as oddsmakers opened the total at 144.5. Bettors have leaned towards the under, taking it down to 144 in some shops early on since its release. This will be heavily predicated on the Friars success of slowing down the Huskies as defense has been their weak point. Both run efficiently on the offensive end with both ranking top-20 in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency.
Providence Vs. UConn Key Matchups
Can UConn continue their elite level of defensive play?
UConn interior defense vs Providence low post scoring
The defensive schemes are practically going to mirror each other as Providence does almost all their scoring production on the inside. They rank near dead last in three-point rate, opting into finding looks down low for higher quality opportunities.
Like the Friars, the Huskies also excel at guarding the interior at an above average rate in eFG%. Smothering looks at the rim, negating second chance opportunities with efficient rebounding.
With the Friar’s timidness to shoot from deep, we may see the Huskies sag off and dare Providence to shoot over the top of them. Until Providence gets into a groove, I’ll back the elite interior defense to get the job done for our under.
Take the under as both defensive units are poised to limit each other’s strengths, making this Big East contest a sure-fire defensive slugfest.