The Phil Knight Invitational begins Thursday with some household names, including a matchup between UConn and Oregon. The Huskies are looking to shake off the disappointment of last season’s early exit and build on the progress they made under Dan Hurley, while Oregon is hoping to break through after a 2-2 start.
Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks and predictions for Thursday’s Thanksgiving matchup.
UConn vs. Oregon Odds
UConn enters as a 4-point favorite at -177 on the moneyline. The over/under is set at 139.5 points.
It’s not too surprising that UConn is favored after a 5-0 start. The Huskies haven’t played tough competition, but they’ve beaten up on a handful of mid-majors and have a roster talented enough to be near the top of the Big East. Oregon clearly has more question marks, though a decent showing against title contender Houston is a sign this is a winnable game.
UConn vs. Oregon Prediction & Pick
Oddsmakers seem to have gotten this one right with UConn favored by 3-4 points. The Huskies look great so far, but there are legitimate questions about whether they have the star power around Adama Sanogo to take a step forward from last season.
This team will rely heavily on Sanogo. That’s not terrible – he’s one of the nation’s best big men – but it may cost them against teams such as Oregon who have a pretty strong defensive frontcourt.
Oregon has been tested. The Ducks didn’t look terrible against Houston, though shooting remained an issue. UConn’s defense is fine, but it’s not Houston’s. Oregon matches up decently and has a good chance to at least keep this game close with the crowd in their favor.
UConn vs. Oregon Key Matchups
Oregon is shooting 26 percent from three-point range through four games, which isn’t great. The Ducks are a frontcourt-heavy team light on shooting and dependent on size. Oregon is third in the nation with 7.3 blocks per game and top-50 in rebounds, which makes for an interesting matchup with Adama Sanogo in UConn’s frontcourt.
So far, it’s tough to see where the points will come from for Oregon. N’Faly Dante is the Ducks’ leading scorer, but he’s never averaged more than 9 points in a season before this year. Dynamic guard Will Richardson, in his fifth season at Oregon, is effectively the leader of the team, but he’s not reliant on scoring. The Ducks might’ve been hoping for an offensive breakout from Richardson after he averaged 14+ points last season. So far, though, he’s shooting just 25 percent from beyond the arc. With questions elsewhere on the roster, that isn’t enough.
Dante, Kel’el Ware, and Nate Bittle have all made a big impact as rebounders and shot-blockers, which is where Oregon can win this game.
This will be the first real test for UConn after five tune-up games. The Huskies haven’t won a game by under 20 points yet, which is a great early sign. On the other hand, teams with continuity have generally fared better so far this season, and UConn doesn’t have a ton of it. Four of the Huskies’ top five scorers from last season are gone.
Luckily, the star of that team is back. Adama Sanogo has been a beast with 21.4 points and 8.0 rebounds per game early on. He should help counter Oregon’s size, though UConn will still be at a disadvantage in that department. The Huskies do have another big frontcourt piece in 7’2” freshman Donovan Clingan, who’s averaging 2.6 blocks per game.
UConn doesn’t yet have an R.J. Cole type of guard who can take over games offensively. They’re hoping transfer Tristen Newton can become that, but he’s shooting just 32 percent from the field to this point. While the Huskies don’t have a strong scoring guard just yet, the team has shot efficiently as a whole to this point. You just wonder if that will change against serious competition.