Providence vs. UConn Odds & Picks: Can Friars Keep This Big East College Basketball Affair Close?
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Minaya
- Providence travels to Connecticut to take on the Huskies in a Big East showdown.
- The Friars are still being undervalued by the market, as they are nearly nine-point underdogs on the road.
- Anthony Dabbundo dives into this game and offers up his betting prediction.
Providence vs. UConn Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Throughout November and most of December, few leagues in the entire country improved its stock more than the Big East.
While the ACC and Big Ten have struggled, the Big East has had multiple teams over-perform expectations, including both of the contestants of Saturday evening’s matchup between UConn and Providence.
The Friars finished the non-conference 10-1 with impressive victories at Wisconsin, against Northwestern on a neutral court and at home against Texas Tech.
The Friars’ lone loss came against Virginia, and Ed Cooley’s team has certainly built up a solid NCAA Tournament resume. The Friars will only need a decent record in conference play to secure a comfortable NCAA Tournament spot.
Connecticut beat Auburn on a neutral court in the Battle 4 Atlantis and took out St. Bonaventure by double digits in its last game. The Huskies have two solid non-conference wins and only two losses — at West Virginia and a last-minute defeat to Michigan State.
The Huskies will have Tyrese Martin back for this game, and could potentially have big man Adama Sanogo return, as well.
Providence lives at the free-throw line, more than almost any team in the country. The Friars get to the line at the seventh-highest rate in the country and shoot a respectable 72.5% from the charity stripe.
Only 12 teams get a higher percentage of their points per game from the line, and that will be a major key for them at UConn.
The Huskies have a very high foul rate and won’t have as much depth as usual in the front court if Sanogo is out.
Another important factor for Providence is its experience, as it won’t be fazed by a hostile road environment in Big East play. The Friars have proven they can win on the road this season when they won at Wisconsin.
The Friars’ interior defense has been well above average and much improved from last year, as they’re allowing fewer two-pointers made and blocking more shots.
But the 3-point defense has gotten worse for them despite similar returning production and a lot of experience. This leads me to believe, based on the quality of shots that they have allowed, that the Friars have some defensive 3-point positive regression coming and should be expected to improve there defensively.
Providence has the length to match up with UConn on the interior and it most importantly, has the size and length to match the Huskies on the offensive glass.
Connecticut doesn’t have the shooters to threaten Providence from the outside much. While Martin is the Huskies’ best perimeter defender, it’s not clear how many minutes he’ll get.
Dan Hurley has his most talented and deepest roster in year four in Storrs, and the Huskies have shown why in the non-conference.
Collapsing late has been an issue that’s cost them a couple games and nearly a few more, but the improvements of Andre Jackson and R.J. Cole to fill the hole left by James Bouknight is significant. Sanogo has looked like one of the more dominant two-way bigs in the country early in the season.
So much of the Huskies’ offense relies on individual shot making and second chance looks, or dumping it into Sanogo to go to work in the post. Much of that is lost without him and there’s a real possibility the Huskies get bogged down in the halfcourt without him if he’s out.
They don’t shoot a lot of 3s, which has been the weaker part of the Providence defense early in the season.
The Huskies’ big win against St. Bonaventure without Sanogo and Martin looks significantly less impressive when you consider how the Bonnies performed Friday vs. Virginia Tech and the general trend of them.
Most of the Huskies’ offense will run through lengthy wings and playmakers like Jackson, Cole and Tyler Polley, but the Providence wings have the length and depth to counteract and match up with them on Saturday.
Players like Al Durham, A.J. Reeves and Justin Minaya can all guard multiple positions. And while the Providence bench may not be as deep as UConn, the team as a whole is just as long.
Providence vs. UConn Betting Pick
The potential absence of Sanogo is critical for the handicap on this game because of the strength of Nate Watson in the middle for the Friars. As good as Akok Akok and Isaiah Whaley have been defensively, UConn is in peril if Sanogo is out and one — or both of them — gets into foul trouble.
Watson has a size edge on the low block against Akok and Whaley, and that’s where this game is likely to be decided. He should help to keep UConn off of the offensive glass and that’s how the Huskies make up for the lack of efficient shooting across the roster.
The market opened this line at 6.5 but it’s still not showing enough respect for the Friars here on the road in the first conference game. If Sanogo ends up in the lineup, this number will tick up on Saturday, but assuming he’s out and the number remains six or better, the only look is Providence.
The Friars continue to not get enough respect in the betting market this year despite clear improvement, a lot of returning production and one of the most experienced rosters in the country.
Pick: Providence +6.5 (Play to +6)