UConn vs. DePaul Odds & Pick: Back Blue Demons vs. Surging Huskies on Monday Night
Williams Paul/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: James Bouknight.
- Having won three straight, UConn travels to Chicago to face DePaul, losers of three straight.
- The Huskies' James Bouknight's status is up in the air entering this game, and his absence would be a big boost for the Blue Demons.
- Mike Randle breaks down why he sees value in the home dog, even on a losing streak.
UConn vs. DePaul Odds
Connecticut has won three Big East games in a row, including consecutive double-digit road wins at Marquette and Butler. The Huskies now travel to Chicago to face a Blue Devils team they beat by 21 points just two weeks ago.
DePaul has lost three games in a row, so why doesn’t this translate to an easy UConn win?
Connecticut’s metrics are very strong, ranking in the top 30 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. The Huskies are superb on the offensive boards, ranking second in the country in offensive rebounding percentage, and first in the Big East. UConn has four players averaging at least five rebounds per game, led by Tyrese Martin’s 8.5 per game.
The Huskies’ offense thrives from beyond the arc, shooting 36.5% from 3-point range. In Big East play, that number has actually improved to 38.1%. Connecticut has a wealth of 3-point-shooting options at the guard position with Martin (54.5%), Brendan Adams (36.8%) and R.J. Cole (32.4%) all dangerous from beyond the arc.
However, the center of the Huskies’ offense is sophomore James Bouknight. The 6-foot-5 guard is averaging 20.3 points per game and scored a career-high 40 at home against Creighton back on Dec. 20.
However, Bouknight is still recovering from a hyperextended elbow that he suffered against Marquette. He scored just six points against the Golden Eagles and did not play against Butler. If he is unable to play, the Huskies will sorely miss his scoring and perimeter defense.
DePaul has excelled this season at 3-point efficiency, shooting 37.8% from beyond the arc. The Blue Demons have also been strong at limiting opponents on 3-point shooting, holding their conference opponents to just 29.8% from deep.
The kryptonite for the Blue Demons is guarding the interior. In their Big East games, DePaul is allowing opponents to score at a 54.5% rate inside the arc, second-worst in the conference. However, Connecticut is not adept at 2-point scoring, averaging just 47.5% and an even-worse 44.4% rate within conference play.
DePaul does excel at on-ball defense, forcing the second-highest defensive turnover rate in Big East play. When teams have success against the Blue Demons, it comes from inside the arc and at the free throw line. DePaul has suffered from unfortunate luck, with their opponents shooting an amazing 76.1% from the charity stripe.
An underrated part of the Blue Demons offense is their offensive rebounding. They rank 91st in the nation in offensive rebounding efficiency, per KenPom, and are third in Big East play. The Blue Demons have four players averaging more than five rebounds per game with guards Javon Freeman-Liberty (5.3) and Romeo Weems (5.3), 6-foot-11 center Nick Ongenda (5.1) and forward Darious Hall (6.3).
DePaul has struggled to have a full roster due to COVID-19 protocols but should be fully healthy for this showdown.
Betting Analysis & Pick
This is the perfect spot to back the home underdog against a Connecticut team playing its third straight road game. The Blue Demons actually match up well with the Huskies, and should limit their perimeter scoring.
Bouknight was unavailable for the game at Butler, which Hurley called “the toughest of the season.” It’s hard to see Bouknight playing at his usual efficiency against DePaul, if he plays at all.
I expect DePaul’s guards to disrupt the Huskies offense, while providing a rebounding match on the boards. Without a strong interior scoring presence, the Huskies will need another 3-point-shooting performance similar to their earlier matchup at home (41.7%). I don’t project that to happen against DePaul’s strong perimeter defense on the road.
DePaul’s preferred up-tempo style will force the guard-heavy Connecticut lineup into a fast-paced game. This game should be much closer than the first meeting, which still exceeded this projected game total.
I expect a close battle that comes down to the final possession, which favors grabbing the home team with the points.
Pick: DePaul +4.5, Over 140.5 | Play down to DePaul +4.5, Over 141.5