Villanova Vs. UConn Predictions, Picks, NCAAB Odds (12/28/22)

One of the best teams in the nation returns to action tonight with the UConn Huskies hosting the Villanova Wildcats. This isn’t the typical standard of Villanova teams that we have been accustomed to the past few years, dipping hard in the first year without head coach Jay Wright. Whether this is the new Villanova norm or not, fireworks are to be expected when these two teams meet tonight. Can UConn continue their undefeated start to the season?

Villanova Vs. UConn Odds

Oddsmakers think so, opening the Huskies as a dominant favorite at -14.5. Bettors are in disagreement, hitting Villanova down to as low as -12. This was kind of a surprise as Villanova has continued to field offensive excellence, a staple to years past. That is exactly what they will need to bring to the table in order to keep pace with UConn who is one of the most efficient units in basketball on both sides of the ball.

As for the total, points are going to be scarce as oddsmakers opened the total at 137.5. Bettors are thinking otherwise, hitting the under down a point to 136.5 in some shops. Even with two elite offenses set to dual off, defense is still expected to play a key factor as UConn is one of the most efficient defenses in basketball while Villanova’s defensive identity can give anyone fits when they are able to establish it.

Villanova Vs. UConn Prediction & Pick

The Pick: Under 137

With that said, I will take the under at no lower than 137. The game script calls for a heavy dose of interior looks and smothered perimeter shots for low quality opportunities, playing right into an under-ticket holder’s hand.

UConn will have a massive size advantage as the tallest player who plays significant minutes on Villanova’s end is only 6’8”. With Nova’s defensive identity relying on locking down the perimeter, an area they have lacked so far this season, UConn may opt in to the idea of abusing the post and generating offense from down low.

This will allow for higher quality looks at the rim at a slower pace of play. While this may generate higher scoring opportunities, it plays to our under as it halts points in a flash from a barrage from the perimeter. UConn is slightly below average in Tempo per Kenpom, ranking 178th in the nation. Should they try to establish half court sets to allow cleaner entry looks at the block, then we can sit comfortably knowing that the pace dictates for longer possessions.

Speaking of the perimeter, the Villanova offense revolves around their success from deep. Just because legendary coach Jay Wright is gone doesn’t mean the Villanova offensive identity went with him. They rely on elite facilitation and movement around the perimeter to generate the highest quality look they can get. 

This has resulted in a top-10 ranking in three-point rate for a completion percentage of 34.2%. The issue with this offensive identity is that they now go against a defense that excels in covering the perimeter. UConn’s elite perimeter defense has held opponents to well below average in completion percentage from deep and will be crucial to maintain that level of play again to put away the Wildcats.

Villanova Vs. UConn Key Matchups

Even with a massive size advantage, does UConn possess the ability to score down low?

UConn big men vs Villanova low post defense

UConn has started the season off hot, going 13-0, and a brunt of that success has been their ability to generate offense from both levels of the court. They hit at an efficient clip from deep, shooting 37.3%, and can use their size to get clean looks at the rim.

That will be their main focal point once again as the Huskies tower over the Wildcats in this matchup. Of their five leading scorers, two of them are forwards as well as their 7’2” center Donovan Clingan.

Even their guards sit at 6’5”, giving length at every position. This allows for any player to anchor down the paint, allowing the offense to run through post looks and facilitation down low. Should Villanova find their perimeter defensive identity that they have struggled to establish, then UConn can comfortably abuse down low and limit the pace of scoring.

Verdict

With UConn’s defense being more than capable of limiting the Nova perimeter-based offense and opting in for more looks at the post, I will take the under at no lower than 137 in what will be a thrilling Big East matchup.

Kody is a sports betting writer here at Lineups. He specializes in college sports as well as the NFL and NBA. He won’t quit believing in the Lions Super Bowl chances even when they are eliminated.

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