UConn vs. Marquette Odds, Picks: How to Bet This Big East Tilt
Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images. Pictured: Shaka Smart (Marquette)
UConn vs. Marquette Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
It's January, which means we have some monstrous conference games on the slate several nights a week now.
The Big East, as usual, is ready to take its place among the most intriguing conferences in men's college hoops.
UConn finds itself among the early favorites to win not just the Big East, but to compete for a national championship. If the Huskies want to remain among the nation's best, they'll need to perform against good teams in road environments.
Enter the Marquette Golden Eagles, who recently found their way into the back end of the AP Poll and are itching for a crack at one of the Big East's best teams.
Dan Hurley's club has emerged as Big East favorites for good reason. The Huskies are big, fast, deep and rank in the top-10 nationally on both ends of the court.
Adama Sanogo is a star on the low block, forcing a double team against any defender. He's backed up by 7-foot-2 freshman Donovan Clingan, giving Hurley the ultimate ace up his sleeve when Sanogo rests or finds foul trouble.
On the perimeter, the Huskies work in concert with the big men in the middle, creating a flow that works nicely both offensively and defensively.
How then has UConn lost twice in the last two weeks? The Huskies have beaten themselves.
At Xavier, UConn committed 16 turnovers and sent the Musketeers to the free-throw line 28 times. At Providence, the Huskies shot 5-of-22 from long range and a putrid 10-of-19 from the free-throw line, while sending the Friars to the charity stripe 35 times.
The fouling has become a real issue for an aggressive defensive team. UConn allows the third-highest percentage of points scored at the free-throw line this season.
Hurley can scream and holler at the refs all he wants, but his team has shown itself to be too pushy and grabby, costing it in two close road games.
Shaka Smart has built a Big East contender in Milwaukee in an old school way.
Despite college basketball being about the transfer portal nowadays, every single member of the Marquette rotation was either on the roster last season or is a freshman this year.
Two key members transferred the year prior, yet have grown into roles within the program and are tentpoles of the lineup.
Tyler Kolek, once of George Mason, is a crafty lead guard with a top-10 assist rate in the nation.
Olivier-Maxence Prosper, a former Clemson Tiger, is a difference maker in the frontcourt.
The Golden Eagles use their familiarity and chemistry to do some beautiful things offensively, a far cry from some of Smart's teams running his havoc defense at VCU or taking turns on dribble-drives at Texas.
Marquette doesn't beat you with a barrage of 3s or trips to the free-throw line. The Golden Eagles find high-percentage looks, especially in transition. Marquette ranks third in the nation in 2-point shooting percentage.
Marquette pushes the pace with the ball — averaging the 11th-fastest offensive possessions — but is elite in transition defense, managing to force opponents into the 15th-slowest possessions on that end of the floor.
Per Hoop-Math, the Golden Eagles are in the top-10 percentile in stopping transition, allowing only 19.6% of their opponents' field goals to come in transition.
UConn vs. Marquette Betting Pick
UConn's size advantage in this game can't be ignored. Hurley can have a game-changing big man on the floor for all 40 minutes of any game the Huskies play, leaving opposing frontcourts bruised, battered and beaten.
UConn is a top-50 rebounding team on both ends of the floor. Marquette isn't even in the top-200 nationally in offensive or defensive rebounding.
That is hard to ignore.
It's not, however, enough to make me take UConn as a favorite here. I'm piggybacking on my Action Network colleague Tanner McGrath here, who trumpets the value of Smart as an underdog.
In his career, Smart is winning 60% of his games ATS as a dog.
As a home dog, Smart is 18-13 lifetime ATS.
With the two teams coming off equal rest, I trust the Marquette coaching staff to have the squad ready to play a home game against a highly-ranked opponent, even one with UConn's size advantage.
UConn has two losses, both on the road to top-30 caliber Big East teams. I want Hurley and company to win a game like that before taking them in this spot, especially while giving points.