College Basketball Odds, Pick, Prediction for UConn vs. Seton Hall (Saturday, Jan. 8)
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- No. 24 Seton Hall hosts UConn in Newark as it looks to rebound from losing two of its last three.
- The Pirates will be at full strength after missing two critical big men for a couple weeks.
- Charlie DiSturco explains why he's backing the Pirates at home over the Huskies.
UConn vs. Seton Hall Odds
-110o / -110u
|Seton Hall Odds|
-110o / -110u
In a battle of two Big East brutes, Connecticut travels to Newark to take on Seton Hall on Saturday.
This will be UConn’s first game since Dec. 21, as COVID ran rampant throughout the program. The Huskies haven’t practiced fully since Dec. 20. They last took down Marquette, 78-70.
Meanwhile, it seems as though Seton Hall will be at full strength after having COVID issues of their own. Two of their bigs, Ike Obiagu and Tyrese Samuel, have missed several games in the last couple weeks. Seton Hall last beat Butler by 15 on the road.
Will Connecticut be able to shake off the rust in its return to competitive action? Or will the now-full strength Pirates prove too much on their home floor?
Connecticut has been on a COVID pause for nearly three weeks, but will likely be at full strength on Saturday.
The only question is the availability of Adama Sanogo. The star center is working his way back from a hamstring injury that he suffered in the Huskies’ last game vs. Marquette. After not practicing on Wednesday, he returned in limited fashion on Thursday.
Sanogo provides instant defense in the paint — nearly 1.7 blocks per game — and is a go-to scorer for a Huskies offense that ranks 34th in adjusted efficiency, per KenPom. Sanogo takes 29% of his team’s shots when on the floor.
R.J. Cole and Tyrese Martin provide added offense alongside Sanogo. The former is the quarterback of the team and not only leads the team in scoring (16.3), but assists (4.7) and steals (1.6), too.
This is a Huskies team that attacks inside and gets to the free-throw line at a high rate. They also thrive on the glass — they’re 12th-best in offensive rebounding rate — with five different players averaging 4.9 boards or better per game.
Following the team’s trend of length and athleticism, UConn’s defense is the moneymaker. The Huskies don’t allow many 3-point attempts and force opponents inside, where they’re often unsuccessful (41.2%). They own the seventh-ranked 2-point defense, per KenPom.
Yes, Seton Hall has lost two of its last three. But there’s a silver lining in those down-to-the-wire affairs: both came without 7-foot-2 Obiagu and do-it-all forward Samuel.
Obiagu returned for the Pirates’ 15-point win over Butler and Samuel is expected to play Saturday afternoon. While Obiagu provides stability around the rim on defense, Samuel is both a dominant rebounder and scorer inside.
In just 22.6 minutes, Samuel averages 10.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. His spark on both ends of the floor is critical to Seton Hall’s success. His presence was missed greatly against both Providence and Villanova.
The return of the two bigs bolsters a defense that enters this Big East matchup 16th in opposing eFG% and seventh in 3-point defense. Seton Hall — like UConn — uses length to force opponents off the perimeter and inside the paint.
Bryce Aiken has emerged as a go-to playmaker for the Pirates as of late. He’s scored 20-plus points in two of his last four games, carving out a larger role in Kevin Willard’s offense.
He joins Jared Rhoden as the two the offense runs through. Rhoden is not only the Pirates’ best free-throw shooter, but he takes a team-high 28% of shots when on the floor.
UConn vs. Seton Hall Betting Pick
This is a spot I’ve had circled for a while, and has only become more appealing as Seton Hall struggled early on.
The losses of Obiagu and Samuel were massive, as paint protection and rebounding lagged without the two bigs. In the two games the Pirates were without both Obiagu and Samuel, opponents broke the 70-point barrier each time.
How about in the 11 games where at least one was active? Only twice.
Also, Sanogo was limited in practice Thursday — returning for the first time in weeks — and may not even play in Saturday’s affair. If he does, I can’t expect him to be at full strength.
This game screams Seton Hall. The Pirates are home, back at full strength and have lost two of their last three. They have the length to compete with anyone — especially inside — in the Big East and I expect them to win this defensive grudge match against the Huskies.
I’m backing the slight home favorites to make a statement win at the Prudential Center on Saturday.
Pick: Seton Hall -3.5