Providence vs. UConn College Basketball Odds & Pick: Can Huskies Avenge Last Week’s Loss?
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Connecticut’s R.J. Cole.
Providence vs. UConn Odds
|Moneyline||+200 / -250|
|Time | TV||Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. ET | FS1|
The Providence Friars make the short trip to Gampel Pavilion on Tuesday night to take on the Connecticut Huskies.
The Friars bested the Huskies at home last week, 70-59, in a game in which UConn was missing star James Bouknight and Providence was without starting point guard Jared Bynum.
Bouknight has been a game-time decision the last three games, attempting to play his first game since he needed surgery in early January. Head coach Dan Hurley originally hinted at Bouknight returning in early February, but that has not come to fruition yet.
He was in practice this week which is a good sign for Tuesday night. Bouknight was averaging 20.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game before his injury.
Providence has had a streaky season thus far and sits middle of the Big East standings with an 11-10 record, 7-8 in conference. It’s been unable to find consistency this season outside of the big three of David Duke, Nate Watson and A.J. Reeves.
Those three have started every game for the Friars, but the other two starting spots have shuffled different players in and out due to the injury bug they’ve faced.
When Connecticut has the ball
Bouknight is the difference between UConn making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament or playing in the NIT.
With Bouknight in the lineup, the Huskies are 5-1 and outscoring opponents by an average of 12.0 points per game. Without him, they’re just 4-4 and scoring 7.6 points less per contest.
Bouknight was in the conversation of the John Wooden Award before his injury and can single-handedly change any game.
Without him, Connecticut has clearly struggled, but his injury forced other players, such as R.J. Cole and Tyrese Martin, to step up. Both of these junior guards are averaging 12.1 points per contest and are getting more comfortable scoring the basketball without Bouknight on the court.
When he returns, the Huskies will have three legitimate scoring threats at the guard position.
Connecticut owns the No. 1-ranked defensive efficiency in conference play, allowing just 98.8 points per every 100 possessions, according to KenPom.
It’s a gritty team that plays at a slow pace but owns the highest offensive rebound percentage in Big East games. It also gets to the free-throw line on 31.4% of its field goal attempts.
When Providence has the ball
Providence has missed Bynum since he was injured on Jan. 2 against Creighton. Although Bynum has only averaged 5.3 points in his 12 contests, the Friars are 8-4 in the games he’s played.
He averages 4.7 assists per game and really gets this offense in motion. He returned against DePaul playing limited minutes off the bench, but he should have a bigger role in this game.
Providence is led by their own “Big Three” of upperclassmen Duke, Watson and Reeves. Duke has been stellar for Providence, averaging 17.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game, and has been fulfilling the point guard duties without Bynum.
Duke and Reeves are the outside scoring threats for the Friars, making 82 of their 329 3-point attempts, converting at a 35.8% clip. Watson is the threat in the paint for Providence, averaging 17.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
Last Week’s Matchup
After those three, the scoring options become extremely limited for the Friars, with no players averaging more than 7.0 points per game.
Last week, these two teams met in what was a back-and-forth affair before Providence pulled away late. UConn led by 1 at intermission but was outscored, 37-25, in the second half.
Watson and Duke both hit their season averages, scoring 17 points in the contest, and Reeves contributed with 10 points. Those three players took 62% of the shot attempts for the Friars, and we should see a similar number in this contest without many other scoring threats.
Providence took 27 free throws to Connecticut’s nine attempts in the game.
The Huskies were led by Cole, who came off the bench to score 14 points. They were also assisted by Martin, who scored 13.
The team shot 20% from behind the arc, making just 4-of-20 attempts. Tyler Polley had a particularly off night, making just two of his 12 shots from the field and shooting 1-of-8 from 3-point land.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Connecticut still has hopes of grabbing an at-large bid to the tournament but will need to finish strong in its final six games. It couldn’t have shot the ball worse in the first matchup and still was competitive throughout the whole game.
Providence, at 11-10, doesn’t have much to play for other than preparing for the Big East Tournament.
The Friars took 18 more free throws in the first game and gained 13 more points from the charity stripe. Connecticut’s top-ranked Big East defense will have to adjust and refrain from fouling to cut down on this margin.
I believe we will see a rejuvenated Huskies team that will avenge last week’s loss with a double-digit win.
Pick: UConn -5.5 (down to -6).